Three to plead guilty in Clay County vote-buying case

bestep@herald-leader.comAugust 28, 2013 

Three people whose convictions were overturned in a federal vote-buying case in Clay County plan to plead guilty.

Attorneys for Bart and Debra Morris and Stanley Bowling have filed motions saying the three will plead guilty to a charge that they took part in a conspiracy to control local politics through vote fraud.

Bowling is a former magistrate in Clay County. The Morrises operated a garbage-hauling business that had contracts with the county and the city of Manchester.

They were among eight Clay County residents convicted in 2010 in one of the largest federal vote-buying cases in Eastern Kentucky.

The eight allegedly used the county Board of Elections as a tool to corrupt elections in 2002, 2004 and 2006 so they could get power, jobs and contracts.

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals threw out their convictions in July, ruling that the judge in the original trial allowed prosecutors to present evidence that should not have been admitted.

Defense attorneys said Wednesday they couldn't comment on the length of the recommended sentences in the new plea arrangements for Bowling and the Morrises.

However, Bowling's new sentence would be a "significant reduction" from the nearly 16 years he received after the first trial, said one of his attorneys, Jason R. Barclay.

The others charged in the case are former Circuit Judge R. Cletus Maricle; former school Superintendent Douglas Adams; former county Clerk Freddy W. Thompson; Charles Wayne Jones, who was an election commissioner; and William Stivers, who had been an election officer.

They are scheduled for trial later this year.

Bill Estep: (606) 678-4655. Twitter: @billestep1.

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