Four defendants in Clay County vote-buying case to plead guilty

Four of the five remaining defendants in an alleged vote-buying conspiracy in Clay County plan to plead guilty.

U.S. District Court Judge Karen K. Caldwell scheduled a hearing Wednesday to take pleas from former school Superintendent Douglas Adams; former county Clerk Freddy W. Thompson; Charles Wayne Jones, who was a county election commissioner; and William Stivers, a former precinct worker, according to a notice filed Tuesday.

The four are expected to plead guilty to a racketeering charge.

The four had planned to plead guilty last week, but Caldwell would not accept the deals they had worked out with prosecutors.

Caldwell objected because the agreements included provisions for the four to continue appealing their challenges to the racketeering charge even after pleading guilty.

Those objections would indicate that the new agreements filed Tuesday don't include provisions to continue appeals. The motions did not include details of the agreements, however.

The four were among eight people convicted of taking part in a conspiracy to buy thousands of votes in local elections between 2002 and 2007. A federal appeals court threw out the convictions.

Former Circuit Judge R. Cletus Maricle has not indicated he will plead guilty.

If Caldwell accepts the new plea deals in the case, Maricle would face retrial alone beginning Nov. 18.

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