Crutchfield pleads guilty to bribery in plea change

MEMPHIS (AP) -- Veteran state Senator Ward Crutchfield of Chattanooga pleaded guilty Thursday to bribery.

A more serious extortion charge was dropped by federal prosecutors in exchange for his guilty plea.

Crutchfield had pleaded not guilty earlier to charges of accepting bribes to help a company called E-Cycle Management change Tennessee law for a business advantage.

The 78-year-old was scheduled to go to trial Monday in the wide-ranging Tennessee Waltz corruption case.

In his guilty plea today in Memphis, he admitted accepting three-thousand dollars in bribes.

The indictment against Crutchfield accused him of splitting $12,000 in bribes with a so-called "bagman" and former lobbyist, Charles Love. Love has pleaded guilty.

Crutchfield faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He is to be sentenced November 28th.

Crutchfield was the last of five state lawmakers charged in the corruption scandal to remain in office.

He has served in the General Assembly for 31 years.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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