MONTGOMERY -- The last defendants in the Winston County vote fraud case have now pleaded guilty and received state sentences that were suspended pending completion of federal sentences, Attorney General Bill Pryor said Thursday.

Two defendants pleaded guilty and were sentenced Thursday in Winston County Circuit Court to a charge of illegal absentee voting, which is a Class C felony.

They were former Winston County Circuit Clerk W.F. Bailey of Double Springs and Mary Jo Ingram of Lynn. Bailey, a Republican, was a candidate for re-election last year.

The six who pleaded guilty Jan. 31 were former Republican Sheriff David Sutherland of Double Springs; Jimmy F. Richardson of Haleyville, the husband of former District Judge Ann Richardson; Winston County Commission chairman candidate Scotty D. Cole of Addison; Winston County board of education candidates Denita H. Lee of Houston and Idas L. Spooky Neal Jr. of Double Springs; and Eugene Emerson of Haleyville.

Eleven originally were indicted in the case, which accused the defendants of using cash, beer and liquor to buy votes in Winston County’s Republican primary in June 2000.

Charges were dropped against two defendants, but the other nine entered guilty pleas in connection with the case.

Eight of the nine admitted their roles in the conspiracy to commit voter fraud, and Ann Richardson pleaded guilty to a state charge for failing to properly report campaign expenditures. She agreed to resign as district judge as part of her plea bargain.

The defendants have been held accountable for betraying the public trust and violating the integrity of the electoral process, Pryor said.

They were indicted in June 2000 after a combined federal and state investigation.

All eight were sentenced to a year and a day in jail, but they won’t have to serve if they adhere to the terms of their federal sentences, pay court costs and a $50 victims assessment fee.

Pryor said Neal and Emerson pleaded guilty to state charges of illegal absentee voting, a Class C felony, on Jan. 31.

Their federal sentencing was Feb. 1; Bailey and Ingram also were sentenced on federal charges Feb. 1.

Sutherland has to complete five years probation on the federal charge including six months of home detention. He also has to pay a $15,000 fine and serve 1,000 hours of community service.

Richardson got five months in prison and then three years on supervised release with the first five months under home detention with electronic monitoring. He was fined $10,000.

Cole was given three years on probation with the first three months under electronically monitored home detention, fined $5,000 and sentenced to complete 300 hours of community service.

Lee got three years probation, a $2,500 fine and 250 hours of community service.

Bailey received three years probation with the first four months under home detention with electronic monitoring, a $1,000 fine and 250 hours of community service.

Neal was sentenced to three years probation with the first six months under home detention with electronic monitoring, fined $2,500 and ordered to perform 250 hours of community service.

Ingram was given one year and a day and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.

Emerson got two years probation with the first six months under home detention with electronic monitoring.

Ann Richardson resigned from office and pleaded guilty to a state election law violation Oct. 30.

Federal charges were dismissed. She said she didn’t report paying $500 to Ingram for campaign assistance.

She was sentenced to serve six months in jail and it was suspended, but she will have to serve one year on probation and pay a fine of $1,000 and court costs.

Sutherland, Richardson, Cole and Lee were sentenced in federal court Jan. 31. The following day, each pleaded guilty and was sentenced in state court.

Pryor said the defendants are not eligible to hold public office.


(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.