Charleston, W.Va. – West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant said today that the joint state-federal investigation into the 2010 Primary Election in Lincoln County, which has now resulted in four guilty pleas and convictions, shows that manipulation of the democratic process will not be tolerated.
Former Lincoln County Commissioner Thomas Ramey was sentenced today by United States District Judge Thomas Johnston. Ramey was sentenced to 21 months in prison, two years of supervised release, and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine. Ramey pleaded guilty in August to lying to an FBI agent in connection to the investigation into the 2010 primary in Lincoln County.
“We have shown that election law violations will be investigated fully and the people who are responsible will be held accountable,” Secretary Tennant said. “Regardless of political party or position, if you chip away at our democracy and ignore the laws that make it possible for the citizens of our state to make their voice heard with their vote, there will be serious consequences. The Secretary of State’s Office never gave up on this investigation, and I am proud of the work that was done. But our work is not done. We will continue to work with election officials in Lincoln County, and anywhere else in West Virginia, to make sure that our elections are fair and open.”
Ramey is the third Lincoln County official to plead guilty to an election law charge because of this investigation.
Former Lincoln County Clerk Donald Whitten, who pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to investigators, was sentenced in August to 18 months in prison, two years of supervised release, and a $5,000 fine.
Former Lincoln County Sheriff Jerry Bowman, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, was sentenced in August to one year and one day in prison, two years of supervised release, and a fine of $5,000.
Whitten and Bowman falsified absentee ballot applications, were in the room when the absentee ballots were marked, and in some cases Bowman marked the ballots himself. Ramey’s charge resulted from telling an investigator that he did not know who falsified the absentee ballot applications.
Another man, James Matheny of Midkiff, was also sentenced earlier this year in connection to this case. Matheny was arrested and charged with threatening at gunpoint investigators with the Secretary of State’s Office and the FBI who were looking into the case. Matheny was sentenced in September to one year and one day on one count of assaulting a federal officer, and seven years on one count of use of a deadly weapon during and in relation to a crime of violence. The sentences will run consecutively. Matheny was also sentenced to three years of supervised release.