Perry official plans to plead guilty in vote-fraud scheme

A longtime Perry County official indicted in a vote-fraud scheme plans to plead guilty, according to a court document.

The attorney for Chester Jones, a circuit clerk and former state representative, filed a motion in federal court Wednesday seeking a hearing for Jones to enter the plea.

Jones was indicted last year with former Perry County Judge-Executive Sherman Neace on charges that they took $7,500 meant for use in efforts to increase voter turnout in November 2008 and instead used the money to buy votes for themselves.

The motion by Jones' attorney said he plans to plead guilty to a charge that he and Neace, aided by each other, schemed to defraud the county Democratic Party and mailed a false campaign-spending report to cover up their misuse of the money.

The state Democratic Party had sent the money to the local party for get-out-the-vote work.

The indictment said that after the local party got the money, Jones had 75 checks issued, each for $100, and left the recipient line blank. Jones and Neace then used the checks to bribe voters, the indictment said.

In 2008, Neace was running for magistrate and Jones was running for a seat on the county school board.

Neace pleaded guilty earlier, admitting he passed out checks under the guise of hiring people do to election work, when in fact he didn't expect them to do any work, according to a court document.

Neace and Jones tried to cover up the vote payments with fake labor contracts saying the people who got the checks would work for 10 hours at $10 a hour on jobs such as driving voters to the polls, according to court documents.

Neace served three terms as judge-executive before losing in 1998. He later went to prison after pleading guilty to selling the county used cars at inflated prices while he was judge-executive.

No date has been set for Jones to plead guilty.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader