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Corruption Chronicles

Kentucky Judges Indicted For Buying Votes

Four judges in an eastern Kentucky county with a history of election fraud have been indicted for using government-owned equipment to bribe citizens to vote for their friend and colleague.

The three Knott County judge executives and a magistrate are accused by federal prosecutors of misappropriating thousands of dollars in public funds to influence an election in 2006.

The candidates (Knott County Judge-Executive Randall Clinton Thompson, Deputy County Judge-Executives John Mac Combs and Phillip G. Champion and Magistrate Ronnie Adams) conspired to use county-owned gravel, asphalt and building materials to buy votes.

In all, thousands of dollars worth of taxpayer-funded building materials were funneled to private citizens in an effort to sway the election in favor of Thompson. One official, Magistrate Adams, actually offered to pay two citizens and pave a private road if they voted for Thompson.

Thompson was an interim judge executive seeking election to the post at the time. Now he and his friends have been charged with vote-buying and theft of funds, which combined carry prison sentences of up to 15 years.

Eastern Kentucky has a history of federal election fraud investigations. The previous Knott County judge-executive, Donnie Newsome, served 16 months in a federal prison after being convicted of election fraud in 2003.


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