Election Fraud Cases
Magoffin County Magistrate Gary Risner, Deputy County Clerk Larry Shepherd, and Tami Jo Risner (his ex-wife) were convicted of felony voter fraud for a vote buying scheme for a host of candidates in the 2014 election. An accomplice, Scotty L. McCarty, was also charged but pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and testified against the others. His testimony revealed that the group had participated in vote buying conspiracies in elections dating back to 2010. He also testified that Larry Shepherd contributed $10,000 and Risner contributed $2,000 to the vote buying racquet, paying individuals $50 to vote for their slate of candidates. Shepherd also revealed that in a 2010 election, while acting as a precinct officer, he added 60 votes to the total for a candidate, and Risner signed the names of those who hadn't voted to cover the discrepancy. The U.S. District Judge scheduled sentencing for December 2016, with the charges carrying a maximum penalty of five years.
Scott McCarty pleaded guilty to bribing a voter in the 2014 Kentucky primary elections. McCarty admitted to accompanying a woman into a voting booth to make sure she voted for the right candidates. Afterwards, McCarty directed the woman to another person who would pay her for her vote. McCarty is to be sentenced in May and faces up to a year in prison.
Ruth Robinson, the former mayor of Martin, Kentucky, was sentenced to 90 months' imprisonment on a variety of charges that included vote buying, identity theft, and fraud. With specific regard to the election charges, Robinson and co-conspirators James "Red" Robinson (her husband) and James Steven Robinson (her son) threatened and intimidated residents of Martin in the run-up to the 2012 election in which Robinson was seeking re-election. The cabal targeted residents living in public housing or in properties Robinson owned, threatening them with eviction if they did not sign absentee ballots the Robinsons had already filled out. Robinson also targeted disabled residents and offered to buy the votes of others. "Red" Robinson was sentenced to 40 months in prison, and his son James Steven Robinson received a total of 31 months' imprisonment.
Arch Turner, the Breathitt County School Superintendent, pleaded guilty to conspiracy, admitting to handing out money to buy votes in a 2010 election. He was sentenced to two years in prison and fined $250,000 for his role in directing a vote-buying scheme.
Three Jackson residents were convicted in a vote buying scheme in a 2010 magistrate's race where they tried to control the outcome of the primary election. Johnson and Young were sentenced to four months in prison for conspiring to buy votes and vote buying. Jennings was sentenced to two months in prison for vote buying and conspiracy.
In 2012, Michael Salyers, a former Brethitt County magistrate candidate, was sentenced to two months in jail, six months in home confinement, and ordered to perform 120 hours of community service for buying votes during his campaign. He admitted to paying people $25 to vote for him.
William Andrew King pleaded guilty to illegally voting in the 2010 election. King, a convicted felon, was given four years of pre-trial diversion. A wrongful registration is a class D felony in Kentucky.
Six defendants pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to buy votes in the 2006 Monroe County general election in favor of certain candidates. Gumm was sentenced to three years' probation with eight months' home detention and a $4,000 fine. Martha Hughes, Michael Page, and Corey Page were each sentenced to two years' probation and six months' home detention. Newport was sentenced to two years' probation, two months' home incarceration, and ordered to pay a $500 fine. Proffitt was sentenced to two years' probation and ordered to pay $1000 in fines.
Randy Salyer, an operative in a vote-buying scheme connected to Magoffin County Judge-Executive Charles "Doc" Hardin, was convicted of two counts of vote-buying. A joint investigation by the Kentucky Attorney General's office and the FBI revealed that Salyer paid individuals $100 each to bring him their absentee ballots. He was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison, but amazingly upon his release Judge-Executive Hardin hired Salyer as an assistant, likely as a reward for not testifying against him, according to documents filed by the prosecutor in the case.
Wilbur Graves, a former judge-executive for Monroe County, was convicted along with Wanda Moore, Gary Bartley, and Ronald Muse in a vote-buying scheme during the 2006 Monroe County general election. Moore and Muse both reached a plea agreement with prosecutors, testifying against Wilbur Graves. During the testimony, Moore stated that Graves provided her $20,000 to $30,000 which Moore used to buy votes for Graves. She paid about 140 voters $40 to $60 per vote. Graves was convicted and sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison, two years' supervised release, and a $5,000 fine. Moore was sentenced to two years' probation and a $400 fine. The judge sentenced Bartley to six months' probation/home confinement and ordered him to pay a $2,000 fine. Muse was sentenced to time served.
Chester Jones and Sherman Neace pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a vote-buying scheme masterminded by the two men during the 2008 election. Jones was running for the Perry County School Board and also served as chairman of the county Democrat Party executive committee. Neace, a former county judge-executive, was running for magistrate. The pair accepted $7,500 from the Kentucky Democrat Party to fund get-out-the-vote efforts, but instead used the money to buy the votes of 75 Perry County voters for $100 apiece. Both men pleaded guilty to mail-fraud charges for mailing false campaign-spending documents to state agencies to cover up their illegal activity. Jones was sentenced to one year in prison, and Neace was sentenced to three years of probation, serving the first six months in home confinement.
Eight defendants (including a former circuit judge, a former school superintendent, a county clerk, a magistrate, and a former Democratic election commissioner) were convicted of vote-buying, mail fraud, extortion, and money laundering for checking lists of voters to identify those who would take bribes and for organizing people to drive them to the polls, where complicit precinct workers made sure they voted correctly and gave them a ticket to redeem for payment. After a lengthy appeals process, and after all 8 had served 40 months in prison, their sentences were reduced to: William Morris - five years, six months; Debra Morris - three years, four months; Stanley Bowling - five years, six months; Maricle, Stivers, Adams - 100 days' home incarceration, two years' supervised release; Freddy Thompson - two years' supervised release. Charles Jones has not yet been sentenced.
Hugh Melvin Perkins pleaded guilty to illegally voting in the 2010 election. Perkins, a convicted felon, was given four years of pre-trial diversion. A wrongful registration is a class D felony in Kentucky.
Robert Madon, a former mayor of Pineville, Kentucky, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to buy votes in his November 2006 election. He used his son to pay voters $10_$20 to cast absentee ballots for him in the election, even paying one woman $50 to leave town after her absentee ballot was refused when she told town officials she would not be out of town on Election Day. He was sentenced to 20 months in federal prison, two years of supervised release, and fined $4,000.
Brent Madon, of Pineville, Kentucky, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to buy votes after he paid voters $10_$20 to vote for his father, a candidate for Pineville mayor in the November 2006 election, using absentee ballots. He was sentenced to 12 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release, the first six months of which were spent in home confinement.