Casey man indicted on vote-buying charges

December 14, 2004|TODD KLEFFMAN

A Casey County grand jury indicted a man Monday on four felony counts of buying votes for a school board candidate in last month's election.

Edgar Joe Ellis, 57, of 5427 Ky. 78, is charged with using cash and whiskey to buy the votes of Stella Ann Johnson, Ronnie Lee Johnson, Jennifer Richards and Daniel Clarkston on Nov. 1 and 2, according to the indictment.

Ellis remains free on a $1,000 bond and is scheduled to be arraigned before Casey Circuit Judge James G. Weddle on Jan. 24. The charge of buying a vote is a Class D felony, and a conviction carries a possible penalty of one to five years in jail.

Ellis was initially charged with a single count of paying Stella Johnson $25 to vote for District 1 school board candidate Sheila Elliott, who lost the race to John Cox. He pleaded not guilty in Casey District Court last month.


During a preliminary hearing last week, Stella Johnson and Kentucky State Police Detective Alex Wesley testified they worked together to set up a sting to catch Ellis in the act of buying Johnson's vote. Two phone conversations between Johnson and Ellis about setting up an exchange were recorded on Nov. 1, Wesley said, but an attempt to capture Ellis buying Johnson's vote on videotape was foiled when Ellis showed up at her house on Election Day two hours before the agreed-upon time and paid her $25 in five-dollar bills.

Stella Johnson testified that she agreed to cooperate with police because her grandson had gotten drunk on election whiskey allegedly passed out by Ellis on Nov. 1. Johnson said she had already lost one son because of alcohol abuse and she wanted to get even with Ellis.

Wesley testified that he interviewed Jennifer Richards and Ronnie Johnson, both Stella Johnson's children, and Clarkston, and they all said they had received whiskey and cash from Ellis in exchange for a promise to vote for Elliott.

Ellis' attorney, Raymond Overstreet, questioned why Stella Johnson or anyone else hadn't been charged with selling their votes, which is also a Class D felony. Wesley said at the preliminary hearing that the investigation into the case is continuing and additional charges may be forthcoming. No one was indicted for selling their votes during Monday's grand jury session.

Neither Wesley nor Commonwealth's Attorney Brian Wright could be reached for comment today.

There has been no evidence uncovered so far to suggest that Elliott, whose husband is Casey District Judge Roger Elliott, was involved in the alleged vote-buying scheme, Wesley said last week.

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