Former Lincoln County commissioner pleads guilty in voter fraud - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Former Lincoln County commissioner pleads guilty in voter fraud case

Thomas Ramey Jr. Thomas Ramey Jr.

A former Lincoln County commissioner could be headed to prison in a voter election fraud scheme.

Thomas Ramey Jr. pleaded guilty to making false statements to an FBI agent.  Investigators said he did this in an attempt to hijack the Democratic party's 2010 county primary.

Ramey didn't act alone. Former Sheriff Jerry Bowman and former County Clerk Donald Whitten were also a part of the master plan to win their hotly contested races. The entered plea agreements earlier this year.

According to newly released court documents, "The candidates agreed that they would, together and individually, visit voters and seek to persuade them to vote absentee in the election. The candidates further agreed that they would complete absentee ballot applications for voters.

"Specifically, the candidates agreed to mark each application to indicate that the voter was unable to vote in person either because of travel or employment, regardless of whether those reasons were true."

Ramey also tried to re-alter the illegally filed absentee ballot applications when he learned that other people were becoming suspicious, according to court documents.

Ramey did not give a verbal statement after he pleaded guilty to the charge.

Some Lincoln County residents were present in the courtroom and said they think this is just the beginning.

"I have one comment; that's three down, three to go," said resident Ruth Pridemore.

Lisa Ramey echoed the same sentiment.  She is not related to Thomas Ramey. The women believe more people were involved in this voter fraud that haven't been charged.

"These three are the beginning and people are just wanting justice and they're wanting some honesty and accountability. That's what we've never had in Lincoln County for years and years," Ramey said.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin confirmed the investigation is far from complete.

"We are not concluding our investigation just yet. However, with that said, we believe that with this guilty plea, with Mr. Ramey's guilty plea, we will have convicted all of the major players engaged in this fraudulent absentee ballot scheme in Lincoln County," he said.

Secretary of State Natalie Tennant said Ramey's guilty plea is one small part of a very large puzzle.

"For us, something like this is the first step. We haven't given up. Through those last 27 months, we kept the investigation going. We knew what needed to take place," she said.

Ramey is scheduled to be sentenced in November. Goodwin said voter fraud is something that won't be tolerated in the state.

"We hope that this sends a very clear deterrent message to anyone who might be considering engaging in this sort of conduct; that this will not be tolerated and you will be prosecuted if you're caught," he said.

Ramey faces up to five years in prison. He also won't be able to run for a political office for 10 years.

The judge agreed to let him stay out on bond until he is sentenced.

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