Politics & Government

Former mayor of Floyd County town sentenced to seven years and six months in prison

Photo by Thinkstockphoto.com
Photo by Thinkstockphoto.com

The former mayor of the small Floyd County town of Martin has been sentenced to seven years and six months in federal prison after being convicted in two separate cases.

Ruth Thomasine Robinson, 70, will have to serve at least 85 percent of the sentence, according to a news release from the office of U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey.

U.S. District Judge Amul R. Thapar also sentenced Robinson's husband, James "Red" Robinson, 64, to three years and four months in prison in one case, which involved vote-buying.

Earlier, James Robinson's son, James Steven Robinson, was sentenced to one year and nine months in prison in the case.

Thomasine Robinson narrowly lost re-election in November 2012. A federal grand jury later charged that Robinson took part in a scheme to intimidate poor voters to support her.

People involved in the scheme allegedly went to people who lived in city-run housing or in rental units owned by Robinson and had them request absentee ballots to be illegally cast for Robinson.

People who went along with the scam allegedly were promised better living arrangements, while those who didn't faced eviction notices and the loss of priority for public housing, Harvey said earlier.

In the other case, federal jurors convicted Robinson and her daughter, Rita Christine Whicker, former director of the community center in the town of 600, on charges of conspiracy, fraud, theft of disability benefits and aggravated identity theft.

Ginger Michelle Halbert, who worked for Robinson, pleaded guilty in that case.

The three took part in a scheme to pay Halbert secretly so that she could continue to receive federal disability benefits, according to court records.

Some of the money came from a fund that was supposed to pay for an after-school program for children at the community center.

Halbert was sentenced to two years in prison in that case and ordered to pay restitution. Whicker was sentenced to three years and nine months.