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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                                          Nov. 15, 2012                   

FORMER LINCOLN COUNTY COMMISSIONER SENTENCED TO NEARLY 2 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR MAKING FALSE STATEMENT TO FBI AGENT IN ELECTION FRAUD INVESTIGATION

Ramey sentencing marks the end of 2010 illegal absentee voting fraud probe

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A former Lincoln County official was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for making a false statement in connection with a 2010 election fraud scheme, announced U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin. Former Lincoln County Commissioner Thomas Ramey, Jr., 32, of Lincoln County, W.Va., previously pleaded guilty in August to making a false statement to an FBI agent in connection with an absentee voting fraud investigation in Lincoln County. 

Ramey admitted that on February 7, 2012, he lied to an investigator to conceal his involvement in an illegal absentee voting conspiracy.

U.S. Attorney Goodwin said, "Clean elections are critical to our democracy." Goodwin continued, "We hope that this sentencing today sends a clear message that election fraud won't be tolerated in the Southern District of West Virginia.  People who attempt to steal elections will end up in jail."

Ramey admitted he told the FBI agent he did not know who had altered certain absentee ballot applications after those applications were submitted to the County Clerk’s office.  The truth, however, was that Ramey himself had directed another person to alter those applications and was present when the alterations were made. The defendant also admitted he completed many false absentee ballot applications for would-be voters, providing false reasons to claim those voters were eligible to vote absentee. 

Ramey’s plea agreement required that he resign his seat on the Lincoln County Commission and bars him from holding public office or being involved in any campaign for public office for a period of ten years.
Ramey’s co-conspirator, former Lincoln County Sheriff Jerry Bowman, 58, was sentenced in August to one year and one day in federal prison, three years of supervised release and a $5,000 fine.  Bowman previously pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy against rights in connection with the election fraud plot. 

Bowman admitted that during the conspiracy, he falsified more than 100 absentee ballot applications for voters who did not have any legal basis to vote absentee.  Bowman also admitted that on several occasions, he witnessed co-defendant Ramey complete absentee ballot applications for voters who had no apparent reason to vote absentee legally. 

Also, former Lincoln County Clerk Donald C. Whitten, 62, was sentenced in August to one year and six months in prison and three years of supervised release and a $5,000 fine. Whitten admitted that on December 7, 2011, he lied to an investigator about his role in the election fraud conspiracy. Whitten further admitted that he told an investigator that he had never provided absentee ballots to a known associate so that the associate could subsequently hand-deliver those ballots to voters. 

All three defendants have resigned their county offices as required by their plea agreements.

The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and investigator Jim Wise of the West Virginia Secretary of State's Office.  Counsel to the United States Attorney Steven Ruby and Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Ryan handled the prosecution. 

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