Federal authorities are investigating former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin for a last-minute pardon he issued to a man from a family that raised money for his campaign.
The Louisville Courier-Journal reported Tuesday that Jenna Reed, an assistant U.S. attorney, acknowledged the “ongoing investigation” during a hearing last week in the case of Patrick Baker.
Seven years ago, Baker shot and killed Donald Mills in Knox County and then took drugs from the scene. In December 2017, Baker was sentenced to 19 years in prison. The sentence included five years for reckless homicide, 12 years for robbery and a year each for evidence tampering and impersonating a law enforcement officer.
However, Baker served less than two years of that sentence after Bevin, a Republican who lost his bid for re-election to current Gov. Andy Beshear, issued a pardon to him before leaving office in December 2019.
Baker’s pardon was one of more than 400 pardons the former governor issued in his final days as governor.
Federal authorities, though, are checking if Baker’s pardon was tied to a fundraiser Baker’s brother and sister-in-law held for the then-governor in July 2018.
The event in Corbin netted $21,500 for Bevin’s campaign. Baker’s brother and sister-in-law personally contributed $4,000, according to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.
Two other men received prison sentences in the case. Neither of them received pardons from Bevin.
“The only difference I could see is that one family had a fundraiser and the other two didn’t,” Laurel County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jackie Steele told NPR in December 2019.
Earlier this month, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky Carlton Shier IV announced that a federal grand jury indicted Baker, charging him with murder. The indictment claimed Baker killed Mills during a robbery and kidnapping that also involved drug trafficking.
Baker is currently in custody, but he has requested a restricted release while he awaits trail, according to court documents.
Bevin’s pardon would not cover any federal charges in the case.
This article was originally posted on Ex-Kentucky governor under federal investigation