Crutchfield trial set for Feb. 5, Love sentencing delayed

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - State Sen. Ward Crutchfield will go to trial on public corruption charges Feb. 5, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

Lawyers told Judge J. Daniel Breen the trial is expected to last two to three weeks. Crutchfield, a Chattanooga Democrat, is one of five current or former state lawmakers charged in the FBI investigation called Tennessee Waltz.

The investigation focused on a fake company, E-Cycle Management, that paid bribes for legislative favors. Crutchfield and Sen. Kathryn Bowers, D-Memphis, are the only lawmakers charged in the investigation who are still in office.

They are awaiting trial, as is former Sen. John Ford, D-Memphis. Former Rep. Chris Newton, R-Cleveland, pleaded guilty to bribery charges and is serving a one-year prison sentence.

Former Sen. Roscoe Dixon, D-Memphis, was convicted at trial and is awaiting sentencing. Charles Love, a former lobbyist and Hamilton County School Board member, pleaded guilty to handling bribes for Crutchfield and Newton.

Love's sentencing, which was set for next month, has been postponed until Nov. 8. Love asked for the delay, saying he wanted to wait until after Crutchfield's trial because he expects to be a witness.

Breen granted the delay before a date was set for the trial. Several local officials in Memphis and Chattanooga also were charged in the investigation.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)