Guilty plea coming in vote-buying case

The former judge-executive of Perry County plans to plead guilty in a federal vote-buying case.

The attorney for Sherman Neace filed a motion Thursday seeking a hearing for Neace to be rearraigned, meaning to enter a guilty plea. The hearing has not been scheduled.

Neace, 68, and Chester Jones, 65, another longtime county official, are charged with using $7,500 from the state Democratic Party to buy votes for themselves last November.

In that election, Neace was running for magistrate and Jones for school board.

According to the indictment, the state Democratic Party sent the local Democratic Party Executive Committee $7,500 to use in promoting voting. Jones was chairman of the local party executive committee.

Jones allegedly went to the bank where the party had its account and got 75 blank counter checks and filled them out for $100 apiece, leaving the payee line blank, the indictment said.

Jones and Neace split up the checks, giving some out themselves to buy votes and giving some to other people to buy votes for them, the indictment charged.

The indictment said the two tried to cover the scheme with fake contracts saying the recipients would work to get out the vote or drive people to the polls, the indictment said.

Neace and Jones are charged with mail fraud for allegedly sending a false campaign report to a state agency, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years. Neace's sentence would probably be much less than that under advisory guidelines, however.

He served three terms as judge-executive before losing re-election in 1998.

He was later sentenced to 15 months in federal prison after admitting that when he was in office, he sold used cars to the county at inflated prices and routed the transactions through other dealers to hide his involvement.

Jones is a former circuit clerk and state representative.