Battle for river rock rolls on

Published 10:42 am Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The attorney representing Steve Shaffer in the controversial Portsmouth Rock case intends to file a motion to hold the newly filed federal case against his client in abeyance until the criminal case against Shaffer is resolved.

On Tuesday Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway sued the city of Portsmouth, Shaffer and the two other men involved in the Rock battle in federal court. Shaffer is already facing criminal charges as the result of his removing a 8-ton sandstone boulder from the bottom of the Ohio River over a year ago near Portsmouth.

Also named in the federal lawsuit are David Vetter, one of the alleged divers involved in bringing the rock to the surface, and former Portsmouth Mayor Gregory A. Bauer.

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Curtis said Wednesday morning that Kentucky had earlier sent out a letter offering certain terms and conditions.

“One of those was that my client plead guilty and serve three years,” the Ashland, Ky.,-based attorney said. “That didn’t even benefit a response. It was just outrageous.”

“Why they joined the individuals doesn’t make any sense,” Curtis said “What they could have done is since this is by the commonwealth (of Kentucky) against Ohio they could have filed a lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court, which has jurisdiction over disputes involving states.”

Curtis said he has 20 days from the date Shaffer was served with the federal lawsuit to make his motion.

Shaffer, who led the efforts to pull the sandstone from the river and Vetter, each face a felony charge. That criminal trial is set for August in Greenup County Circuit Court. Also named in the lawsuit is former Portsmouth Mayor Gregory A. Bauer.

The boulder now rests in a city garage in Portsmouth.