Last of Tenn. lawmakers charged in corruption case pleads guilty

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Former state Senator Kathryn Bowers changed her bribery plea to guilty this morning in a Memphis federal courtroom.

With Bowers' act Monday and a similar change of plea on Friday by Senator Ward Crutchfield of Chattanooga, prosecutors now have convictions of all five current or former state lawmakers who were indicted in Operation Tennessee Waltz.

In exchange for her plea, prosecutors dropped five more serious charges of extortion, each carrying a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Judge J. Daniel Breen scheduled a sentencing hearing for October 24th.

While Bowers could receive up to ten years in prison and a quarter-million-dollar fine, federal guidelines call for a much lighter sentence for a first-time offender.

The Tennessee Waltz investigation began in 2004 and was built around E-Cycle Management, a fake company set up by the FBI supposedly to buy and resell used government computers. The company offered bribes to officials in return for legislation dealing with government contracts.

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

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