Local Politics

Black Sentencing Could Be Delayed Again

Posted July 5, 2007 3:21 p.m. EDT

— Sentencing for former House Speaker Jim Black on federal corruption charges might not take place for at least another month.

Defense attorney Ken Bell requested that U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle approve a 35-day continuance so he could review a pre-sentence report compiled by probation officers.

Bell filed a motion for the delay because the pre-sentence report calls for the possibility of a longer prison sentence for Black that expected.

Black was scheduled to be sentenced next Wednesday on charges that he accepted at least $25,000 from chiropracters between 2002 and 2005 while shepherding legislation favorable to the industry.

The pre-sentence report included Black's role in providing $50,000 to the campaign of former Rep. Michael Decker in exchange for Decker's 2003 switch to the Democratic Party, which helped Black retain a share of the House speakership.

Black has denied bribing Decker. Decker is serving four years in prison on a charge of accepting a bribe.

Bell said in his request for the delay that probation officials previously told him that the Decker bribe wouldn't be included when officials determined a sentencing recommendation for Black.

This is the second time Black's sentencing has been delayed.

He initially was to be sentenced in May, but that was postponed after Bell asked that U.S. District Judge James Dever step aside because of his past dealings with Black. Dever later recused himself.