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Former Clay County Election Commissioner Sentenced 20 Years for Racketeering and Voter Fraud Conspiracies

U.S. Attorney’s Office March 08, 2011
  • Eastern District of Kentucky (859) 233-2661

FRANKFORT, KY—A former democratic election commissioner in Clay County was sentenced today to 20 years for his role in helping a criminal enterprise make millions of dollars and obtain power and authority in the county.

Charles Wayne Jones, 71, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Danny C. Reeves for conspiring with a former circuit court judge, a school superintendent, and other county officials in schemes that involved racketeering, money laundering, and voter fraud.

Last March, a jury convicted Jones and seven others for their roles in the above mentioned schemes. The jury also found that the eight men were jointly liable for $3.4 million that represented the salaries and contracts they were able to get as a result of the conspiracies.

Jones is the second defendant sentenced today. William Stivers was sentenced to 292 months this morning.

As an election commissioner, Jones helped the Clay County board of elections control the outcome of the primary and general elections for the years 2002, 2004, and 2006.

Evidence at the trial proved that during elections, Jones picked election officers who assisted in corrupting the voting process at Jones’ direction. Jones also gave specific instructions to the officers on how to manipulate the voting machines to steal votes. This was done so that the enterprise could ensure victory for the slate of candidates they wanted in county offices.

Assistant United States Attorney Jason Parman emphasized at sentencing that Jones was involved in voter fraud for purposes greater than just ensuring victory for specific candidates.

“This isn’t just a vote buying case,” said Parman at sentencing. “This was an organized attempt to control the entire structure of the county.”

Parman also stated at sentencing that Jones trafficked marijuana and used the proceeds to further the conspiracies. Jones has a previous felony conviction for drug trafficking.

Jones also intentionally prepared false election reports to be sent to Frankfort that inaccurately reported voting totals to help conceal the conspiracy.

In addition, he and co-defendant William Stivers boasted on recorded conversations how they helped pick certain juries and could influence the outcome of court cases that co-conspirator Cletus Maricle presided over as circuit court judge. Court documents cite two civil cases in which the corrupted jurors helped render verdicts that involved multi-million-dollar pay outs.

Jones was appointed democratic election commissioner in 2000 and served through 2006.

Kerry B. Harvey, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky; Elizabeth A. Fries, Special Agent in Charge of FBI; and Christopher R. Pikelis, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service jointly made the announcement today after the sentencing.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI and IRS. The U.S. Attorney’s Office was represented in the case by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen Smith and Jason Parman.

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