Prosecutor: Clay witnesses threatened

bestep@herald-leader.comApril 28, 2009 

LONDON — A Clay County election commissioner charged in a federal vote-fraud case motivated another man to send a threatening message to two witnesses in the case, according to a federal prosecutor.

The commissioner, Charles Wayne Jones, violated his bond conditions and should be jailed until the trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen C. Smith argued at a hearing Monday.

However, Jones' attorney, Scott White, said there is no evidence Jones took part in the plan to send the message to witnesses, and argued that Jones had not deliberately broken any terms of his pretrial release.

Jones has been jailed since last week, when he was arrested on an allegation he had violated his bond.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Wier said he would rule soon on whether Jones will have to stay in jail until the trial.

The trial is scheduled for next month but could be postponed.

Jones is among eight Clay County residents charged with taking part in a racketeering scheme to rig elections in 2002, 2004 and 2006 by buying or stealing votes.

Those charged with him include former Circuit Judge R. Cletus Maricle, school Superintendent Douglas Adams and county Clerk Freddy Thompson, Jones' son-in-law.

All have pleaded innocent.

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