Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Feds Name Ferrell in Election Fraud Case

Delegate Joe C. Ferrell, D-LoganDelegate Joe C. Ferrell, D-Logan, to whom I lost House of Delegates races in 2002 and 2004, was named today as a not yet indicted coconspirator in the Lincoln County election fraud trial. Ferrell is a notorious vote buyer and graveyard canvasser who seldom sponsors legislation and has led the House of Delegates in absenteeism for many years.

From the AP:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Eight-term Delegate Joe C. Ferrell is considered a co-conspirator in the pending case alleging several Lincoln County officials and residents schemed to buy votes during more than a dozen past elections, a federal prosecutors said during a Wednesday court hearing.

Ferrell, a Logan County Democrat, has not been charged in the case. But he has provided a 1992 tape recording that could become evidence in the upcoming election fraud trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen George said.

"Joe C. Ferrell is considered by the government to be a member of the conspiracy,'' George told U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver Jr. during the hearing.

Ferrell's name emerged during a hearing for evidence requests and other motions in the case against six Lincoln County men, including Circuit Clerk Greg Stowers and Assessor Jerry Weaver. The charges allege the six were part of a conspiracy to bribe voters during more than a dozen elections, mainly Democratic Party primaries, dating back to 1990.

Copenhaver agreed Wednesday to postpone their trial, which had been slated to begin next week, to early January. He expects to rule soon on the other pending motions, including one requesting a separate trial for at least one of the co-defendants.

Stowers' lawyer, Bob Allen of Charleston, also represents Ferrell and declined to comment on Wednesday's disclosure. Allen also declined to comment on the search by investigators in June of Southern Amusement Company Inc., Ferrell's video lottery machine leasing business.

Ferrell, 58, had served four terms in the House when he pleaded guilty in 1992 to illegal spending during his prior campaigns. As part of his agreement with prosecutors, Ferrell promised not to seek office again.

But because it was a misdemeanor, Ferrell was allowed to run for the House in 1998. He has won three more terms since.

While declining to detail its contents, George said the 1992 recording is of a conversation involving Ferrell and Bill Anderson. A former Logan County lawmaker, Anderson may be a witness at the upcoming trial of Stowers, Weaver and the others, George said. Anderson could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Weaver and Stowers are charged along with Ralph Dale Adkins, 58, Wandell "Rocky'' Adkins, 50, Toney "Zeke'' Dingess, 34, and Clifford Odell "Groundhog'' Vance, 49. All six remain free on bond.