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Ky. Gov’s Ex-Mistress to Plead Guilty

October 2, 2003 GMT

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) _ Prosecutors will recommend probation instead of prison for the ex-mistress of Gov. Paul Patton in exchange for her guilty plea to a mail fraud charge, her attorney said Thursday.

Tina Conner, whose disclosed her affair with the governor a year ago, is expected to enter the guilty plea in U.S. District Court this afternoon, said her attorney, Thomas E. Clay, in a telephone interview.

``Our agreement is for straight out probation,″ Clay said.

Conner initially pleaded innocent to the single count that alleged she falsified an application for a company she owned to be certified as a ``disadvantaged″ business.

Conner was indicted in July on the charge involving ST Construction, which she owned with her former husband, Seth Conner.

Tina Conner claimed that she got the certification in 2000 as a favor from Patton because of their affair. Patton admitted their relationship, but has denied abusing his power as governor either to help Conner or to harm her after the affair ended.

Patton, a two-term governor who leaves office at the end of this year, declined to comment on Conner’s sentencing.

He has not been charged with a crime. But he has been accused of misusing his power in intervening with the Transportation Cabinet to get a promotion for a vehicle-enforcement officer at Conner’s request. A hearing on the ethics charge is scheduled Nov. 17.

The disadvantaged business certification is helping women- and minority-owned companies get consideration for public contracts. Prosecutors contended ST Construction was primarily operated by Seth Conner.

Clay said he expected U.S. District Judge Joseph M. Hood to set a sentencing date during Thursday’s hearing.