FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Jan. 30, 2012
U.S. ATTORNEY BOOTH GOODWIN ANNOUNCES LINCOLN COUNTY SHERIFF AND COUNTY CLERK TO PLEAD GUILTY TO FEDERAL FELONIES
Goodwin Recognizes Investigative Work of West Virginia Secretary of State in Election Probe
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin announced today that two Lincoln County officials have been charged with felonies in connection with a 2010 primary election fraud scheme. Goodwin also announced that that the officials, Lincoln County Sheriff Jerry Bowman, 58, and Lincoln County Clerk Donald C. Whitten, 62, have admitted the charges and agreed to plead guilty.
U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin stated, “A citizen's right to vote is at the very foundation of our constitutional democracy. When that vote is hijacked--especially by those who have sworn to protect and defend our Constitution--the persons responsible must be brought to justice."
"The West Virginia Secretary of State's office should be commended for its invaluable work in this investigation," Goodwin continued. "Secretary Tennant's staff has worked hand in hand with the FBI to bring these individuals to justice."
Goodwin said Sheriff Bowman admitted to falsifying more than 100 absentee ballot applications for voters who did not have any legal basis to vote absentee. After the false applications were processed, Sheriff Bowman then returned to many of those voters' homes and was in the room with them while they voted, telling them which candidates he backed. In at least six cases, Sheriff Bowman himself marked voters' absentee ballots.
Whitten has admitted to initially obstructing the investigation by lying about his role in the scheme. He has agreed to plead guilty to making a false statement.
Bowman faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Whitten faces up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The investigation was conducted by investigator Jim Wise of the West Virginia Secretary of State's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Counsel to the United States Attorney Steven Ruby and Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Ryan are leading the prosecution.
Please click the links below to view related documents for each defendant:
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