Thu, May 24, 2018 03:01 AM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
Floyd man is acquitted of federal vote fraud charge
by BSN Staff report

PIKEVILLE — A Floyd County man charged in connection with a federal vote fraud investigation was acquitted of those charges Thursday in U.S. District Court in Pikeville.

Jimmy Lee Conley, 33, of Lackey, was accused of paying $50 to family members in Knott County to vote for a slate of candidates in the 1998 primary election.

Conley was indicted earlier this year along with several Knott Countians as part of a federal probe into vote fraud in Eastern Kentucky.

Also, nine individuals from Pike County, including prominent businessman Ross Harris and former State Senator John Doug Hays, and Knott Judge-Executive Donnie Newsome, plus several other people from Knott County have also been charged by federal prosecutors. All have pleaded not guilty.

Conley was the first to go on trial.

Federal authorities are seeking to have the cases moved to Frankfort, saying in court filings they don’t feel a fair trial is possible in Eastern Kentucky. That request is pending before the court.

Two other Knott County men, Newton J. Johnson, 40, of Brinkley, and Phillip Slone, 30, of Hindman, have entered guilty pleas to buying votes in the 1998 election.

Knot County Judge-Executive Donnie Newsome is the only elected official charged in connection with the vote fraud investigation so far, but the probe is continuing and expanding.

Federal authorities said earlier this year that the Knott County indictments were “hurried” because at five-year statute of limitations on bringing criminal charges in connection with the 1998 election was about to expire.

The federal investigators can assume jurisdiction in any election investigation for any office when the election in question included a race for a federal office.

The investigation also reportedly involves races in 2002.

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