3 Jackson residents sentenced in Breathitt vote-buying case

Three Jackson County residents were sentenced in federal court for their roles in a vote-buying scheme in Breathitt County in 2010.

According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's office, U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell sentenced Naomi Johnson, 61, and Earl Young, 44, Thursday to four months in prison for conspiring to buy votes and vote buying. Jackie Jennings, 62, was sentenced to two months for vote buying and conspiracy.

Johnson and Young were found guilty at trial in April, while Jennings pleaded guilty the first day of the same trial.

The three were minor players in a vote-buying ring which sought to gain political control in Breathitt County by controlling the outcome of the May 2010 primary elections.

Testimony at the trial revealed that Michael Salyers, a candidate for county magistrate, was given hundreds of dollars to pay people to cast their votes for him by absentee ballot.

Evidence showed that the defendants traveled with voters to the courthouse, the release said. Young and Jennings verified that the voters voted. Voters were paid after informing Salyers they voted for him.

A total of 11 people have either pleaded guilty or been convicted of charges related to buying votes. Former Breathitt County School Superintendent Arch Turner, 66, was the last of the group to plead guilty Tuesday. He faces a maximum of 5 years in prison.

Jennnings, Johnson and Young will have to serve at least 85 percent of their prison sentences.

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