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Court reporter sentenced for obstructing federal investigation

September 11th, 2013 1:49 pm by Wes Bunch

Court reporter sentenced for obstructing federal investigation

Ernest Julius Benko, 67

ABINGDON — A Southwest Virginia television station owner and court room reporter was sentenced to over a year in prison during an appearance Tuesday in federal court in Abingdon.

Ernest Julius Benko, 67, of Norton was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 15 months incarceration as a result of pleading guilty in July to obstructing a federal investigation and conspiracy.

Benko’s charges were related to a separate case involving Wise County attorney Stuart Collins, 42. Collins was convicted earlier this year on four counts of obtaining prescription drugs by fraud.

Federal prosecutors said Benko recorded false statements from witnesses in Collins' case as well as lying to FBI investigators on at least one occasion in an attempt to derail the federal investigation into Collins' drug activity.

Prosecutors said Benko was employed from 2008-2013 as a private investigator, videographer, notary public, and a court reporter for the Circuit Court of Wise County and the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Virginia.

Read more in Thursday's print edition of the Times-News, or the expanded electronic edition.  

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