- Associated Press - Saturday, August 13, 2016

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - A federal jury has convicted three Magoffin County residents of conspiring to buy votes for a slate of candidates in the 2014 election.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports (https://bit.ly/2bpOjkr ) Magistrate Gary “Rooster” Risner, his ex-wife Tami Jo Risner and Deputy Clerk Larry Shepherd were all convicted by a federal jury late Friday night. A fourth man, Mason Daniels, was acquitted.

The four were charged with conspiring to buy votes for a slate of candidates in Magoffin County, including Risner, County Clerk Renee Arnett Shepherd and county Judge-Executive Charles “Doc” Hardin. Larry Shepherd is married to County Clerk Renee Arnett Shepherd

A fifth person, Scott L. McCarty, was initially charged but pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and testified against the other four. Attorneys for the Risners and Shepherd said they would likely appeal the verdict. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 1.

The case is the latest vote-buying scandal to hit eastern Kentucky. Last year, a state judge took the extraordinary step of throwing out the results of the 2014 Magoffin County judge executive race, ruling the results were so corrupt it was impossible to know who won. The state Court of appeals later upheld that verdict. But Hardin and the county board of election appealed to the state Supreme Court, which has not yet issued a decision.

Hardin, meanwhile, has continued to serve as judge executive while the case is appealed. He was not charged in the federal vote-buying case and has denied any involvement.

But McCarty testified in federal court this week that he worked with Hardin, Risner and Larry Shepherd to buy votes for candidates in the 2014 election. McCarty said he even took a job as a precinct officer to give him better access to the results, where he testified he added 60 votes to the total of a state representative candidate.

Prosecutors also used testimony from several others who said they were paid $50 to vote for the right slate.

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Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, https://www.kentucky.com


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