Defense Begins Case in Trial of Former Region 8 Prosecutor

February 23, 2004 - Posted at 4:34 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Defense lawyers for former prosecutor T.J. Hively have begun presenting their case in his corruption trial.

Federal prosecutors presented their last witness earlier today.  An FBI agent reviewed for the jury the business transactions of a former Hively associate.

Hively is accused of running his office as a criminal enterprise.

Bail bondsman Gary Edwards and Hively's former law partner Wesley J. "Butch" Ketz are being tried for the first time with Hively, who is being tried a second time.  Hively faces 16 counts, 48 fewer than the original 64 for which he was first indicted.  Those include one count of racketeering, two of extortion and 13 of mail fraud.

Ketz faces 50 counts, one count of racketeering, thirty counts of mail fraud and 19 counts of money laundering.  Edwards faces three counts, one count of racketeering and two counts of extortion.

The federal government alleges that Hively, Ketz and Edwards were involved in pressuring criminal defendants to give up money or property in exchange for lenient prosecution.

FBI agent Mike Lowe reviewed several real estate transactions today in which criminal defendants signed over property to Edwards after he posted their bonds.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)