Wise County

Court reporter enters guilty plea to obstructing justice

WISE COUNTY, Va. - A Wise County court reporter has entered a guilty plea to charges of obstruction of a federal criminal investigation.

66-year-old Ernest Benko, of Norton, is accused of lying to investigators in the case of Stuart Collins. Collins is a Wise County attorney who pleaded guilty in May to obtaining controlled substances by fraud.

The U.S. Attorney's office says Benko was hired by Collins in May of 2009 to record sworn statements in Collins' case. Investigators determined those statements were false.

The U.S. Attorney also says Benko lied during interrogations in September of 2012 with FBI agents and VSP.

Benko's sentencing is set for September 10.

He faces a maximum sentence of up to 25 years in prison and a potential fine of $500,000.

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