Five Clay County officials, including the circuit court judge, the county clerk, and election officers were arrested Thursday after they were indicted on federal charges accusing them of using corrupt tactics to obtain political power and personal gain.
The 10-count indictment, unsealed Thursday, accused the defendants of a conspiracy from March 2002 until November 2006 that violated the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). RICO is a federal statute that prosecutors use to combat organized crime. The defendants were also indicted for extortion, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to injure voters’ rights and conspiracy to commit voter fraud.
# Clay County Clerk, Freddy Thompson, 45, allegedly provided money to election officers to be distributed by the officers to buy votes and he also instructed officers how to change votes at the voting machine. The indictment also accused Thompson of a false testimony before a grand jury in Lexington.
# Election officer William E. Stivers, 56, allegedly marked votes or issued tickets to voters who had sold their votes and changed votes at the voting machine. Stivers also allegedly instructed a witness to testify falsely before a federal grand jury.
# Paul E. Bishop, 60, allegedly marked voters or issued tickets to voters who sold their votes and he also hosted alleged meetings at his home where money was pooled together by candidates and distributed to election officers, including himself. He was also accused of instructing the officers how to change votes at the voting machine.