I love Kentucky!
Man Said to Use Cash, Whiskey to Buy Votes
The Associated Press
Friday, November 11, 2005; 5:03 PM
LIBERTY, Ky. -- A Casey County man has been convicted of using cash and whiskey to buy votes in a school board election.
Jurors deliberated 30 minutes Wednesday before finding Joe Ellis guilty on four felony charges of buying votes. They recommended Ellis serve only the minimum prison sentence of one year. He had faced up to 20 years in prison.
Ellis gave pints of Ancient Age whiskey and $5 bills to Stella Johnson's son and daughter and a friend during a meeting the day before the November 2004 election, according to testimony during the trial.
Police said Ellis was trying to buy votes for the losing school board candidate, Sheila Elliott. Police said Elliott had no involvement in the scheme.
Defense attorney Raymond Overstreet argued that Ellis was simply engaging in good, old-fashioned "electioneering," but Commonwealth's Attorney Brian Wright said it was much more serious than that.
"The citizenry has to have faith that the vote is valid," Wright said. "The 12 of you who go back to that room have a very important decision to make on where this community stands on handing out whiskey and $5 bills to influence the vote."
Jury foreman William Myers said after the trial that a conversation between Ellis and Stella Johnson that was recorded by state police was a major factor in their decision. On the tape, Ellis agrees to meet Johnson to pay her for her vote and that of her husband.
"To us, that was more or less an admission of guilt," Myers said.