Stowers & Weaver Plead Guilty to Federal Election Fraud Charges
Lincoln County will ring in the new year with a cleaner courthouse thanks to the guilty pleas and resignations of Circuit Clerk Greg Stowers and Assessor Jerry Weaver. Both officials pleaded guilty this week to felony federal election fraud charges.
Stowers, a member of the family that has long controlled Lincoln County politics, and Weaver, who has been the county assessor for the last 25 years, both admitted this week to leading a criminal enterprise to systematically control Lincoln County elections, the distribution of public resources, property tax assessments, and the local justice system. Federal prosecutors have alleged that politicians in both Lincoln and Logan counties have bought votes and rigged elections for years to further these schemes.
In neighboring Logan County, federal prosecutors have already scored guilty pleas to various election fraud-related charges from former County Clerk Glen "Hound Dog" Adkins, former Sheriff Johnny "Big John" Mendez, former Logan Mayor Tom Esposito, former Logan Police Chief Alvin "Chipper" Porter, former UMWA official Perry Harvey, and Mark Hrutkay--the ex-husband of Delegate Lidella Hrutkay, D-Logan, and formerly the state's top Worker's Compensation plaintiffs' lawyer. Former Logan Magistrate Danny Wells was convicted of unrelated racketeering charges in 2003 and is currently serving a 7 1/2 year sentence at the Morgantown federal prison. Delegate Joe C. Ferrell, D-Logan, is believed to have made a yet undisclosed plea bargain with prosecutors and was listed as a likely prosecution witness against Stowers and Weaver in their trial that would have begun next Tuesday.
Because Greg Stowers is considered the kingpin of Lincoln County political corruption, the real question now is, "Whom did Greg Stowers deliver to the feds? Who in the upper echelons of state politics now finds difficulty sleeping at night in the wake of Stowers' plea deal?" While much is still unknown about the details of Stowers' plea bargain, one thing is certain: to get a plea bargain from federal prosecutors, one must have something valuable to offer in return. Since this blog is not a bulletin board for wild gossip and rampant speculation, such thoughts on my part will remain out of print until substantiated by reputable sources.
Let's hope 2006 will be the year of eradicating election fraud in southern West Virginia.