UPDATE: Sentencing Hearings Held in Martin, Ky. Federal Vote-Buying Case

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email

UPDATE 9/10/14
PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WSAZ) – Sentencing hearings were held Tuesday for the husband and step-son of the former mayor of Martin, Ky.

In May, Ruth Robinson, 69, James “Red” Robinson, 64, and James Steven Robinson, 32, were convicted of civil rights violations and vote-buying during their trial in U.S. District Court in Pikeville.

Federal prosecutors say the charges stem from the November 2012 General Election for Martin Mayor, in which Robinson was seeking re-election.

During a hearing Tuesday, Steve Robinson was sentenced to 21 months on the civil rights and vote buying charges, and another 10 months for violation of his probation. The sentences are to run consecutively for a total of 31 months.

The judge was prepared to give James “Red” Robinson a sentence of up to 40 months, but delayed issuing a final order so his attorney could file a motion to contest the sentence.

Ruth Robinson is scheduled to be sentenced next month on the vote buying and civil rights convictions, along with an unrelated federal conviction for social security fraud.

Three campaign workers were indicted, along with the Robinsons in the vote buying case.

In April, Henry Mullins pleaded guilty to one count of vote-buying and was later sentenced to probation, according to court documents.

Johnny T. Moore, 32, was found not guilty of the charge against him during the trial.

Prosecutors dropped the charges against Ginger Michelle Halbert in the vote buying case, but she was sentenced to two years and one day for her guilty plea in the social security case.

Ruth Robinson’s daughter, Christine Whicker, will also be sentenced next moth for her conviction in the social security fraud case.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 5/9/14 @ 2:45 p.m.
PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WSAZ) – A federal jury has found the former mayor of Martin, Ky., her husband, and step-son guilty of civil rights violations and vote-buying, according to court documents filed Friday afternoon.

Ruth Robinson, 69, James “Red” Robinson, 64, and James Steven Robinson, 32, were convicted Thursday during their trial in U.S. District Court in Pikeville.

Along with the conspiracy to violate civil rights charge, Ruth and James "Red" were both convicted on one count of vote-buying, while James Steven was found guilty on two of three vote buying counts.

The jury also found Johnny T. Moore, 32, not guilty of the charge against him.

The jury deliberated for about two and a half hours before reaching a verdict. The trial last three days.

Last month, prosecutors dropped all charges against Ginger Michelle Halbert, who was also originally charged in the case.

A sixth person, Henry Mullins, pleaded guilty last week to one count of vote-buying, according to court documents.

The Robinsons and the three campaign workers were indicted in December on the vote-buying and conspiracy charges.

Federal prosecutors say the charges stem from the November 2012 General Election for Martin Mayor, in which Robinson was seeking re-election.

According to evidence introduced at trial, Thomasine Robinson and her co-conspirators intimidated poor and disabled citizens in order to gain their votes during the 2012 general election in Martin. According to the US Attorney's Office, members of the conspiracy directed residents of public housing to vote by absentee ballot under the supervision of Thomasine Robinson or another member of the conspiracy. The members of the conspiracy also targeted residents of private housing owned and leased by Thomasine Robinson.

The trial testimony established that the members of the conspiracy filled out absentee ballots, marking the conspirators’ choice of candidates, and then had the voters sign the pre-marked ballots. Voters who cooperated with this arrangement and voted for Thomasine Robinson received promises of better living arrangements and other consideration. Voters who did not comply faced consequences such as eviction and the loss of priority for public housing.

In addition, the evidence at trial established that the defendants offered to pay several voters to vote for Thomasine Robinson.

Because the ballot included federal races, the case became a federal one.

Ruth Robinson, James “Red” Robinson, and James Steven Robinson will be sentenced in September according to court documents. They each face a maximum of 10 years in prison for the conspiracy offense and a maximum of five years in prison on the vote-buying offenses.

In December, Ruth Robinson was convicted of conspiracy, federal program fraud, theft of social security disability benefits and aggravated identity theft during an unrelated federal Social Security fraud trial. Robinson will be sentenced in July on that case.

In the same case, Ginger Halbert pleaded guilty to conspiracy, federal program fraud and aggravated identity theft. Halbert was a volunteer city employee.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



UPDATE 5/6/14 @ 2:30 p.m.
PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WSAZ) – Jury selection is underway in the federal vote-buying trial of the former mayor of Martin, Ky. and three other people.

Ruth Thomasine Robinson, her husband, step-son and three campaign workers were indicted on federal vote-buying and civil rights conspiracy charges back in December.

Ruth Robinson and James “Red” Robinson, were charged with one count of vote-buying.

Ruth Robinson, James “Red” Robinson, James Steven Robinson, Ginger Michelle Halbert, and Johnny T. Moore were each charged with civil rights conspiracy.

The charges against Halbert were dismissed last month.

A sixth person, Henry Mullins, pleaded guilty last week to one count of vote-buying during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Pikeville, according to court documents.

Federal prosecutors say the charges stem from the November 2012 General Election for Martin Mayor in which Robinson was seeking re-election.

Because the ballot included federal races, the case became a federal one.

The trial for all three Robinsons and Moore is taking place in U.S. District Court in Pikeville.

In December, Ruth Robinson was convicted of conspiracy, federal program fraud, theft of social security disability benefits and aggravated identity theft during an unrelated federal Social Security fraud trial. Robinson will be sentenced in July on that case.

In the same case, Ginger Halbert pleaded guilty to conspiracy, federal program fraud and aggravated identity theft. Halbert was a volunteer city employee.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



UPDATE 5/5/14
PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WSAZ) – The federal vote-buying trial for the former mayor of Martin, Ky. is scheduled to be begin Tuesday in Pikeville.

Ruth Thomasine Robinson, her husband, step-son and three campaign workers were indicted on federal vote-buying and civil rights conspiracy charges back in December

Ruth Robinson, James “Red” Robinson, James Steven Robinson, Ginger Michelle Halbert, and Johnny T. Moore are each charged with civil rights conspiracy.

Ruth Robinson and James “Red” Robinson, are also charged with one count of vote-buying.

A sixth person, Henry Mullins, pleaded guilty last week to one count of vote-buying during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Pikeville, according to court documents.

Federal prosecutors say the charges stem from the November 2012 General Election for Martin Mayor in which Robinson was seeking re-election.

Because the ballot included federal races, the case became a federal one.

According to the December indictment, in many instances, these residents were “poor, physically, mentally or developmentally disabled, and felt intimidated and coerced into complying with the instructions of the defendants with respect to voting."

The indictment also charges that as part of the conspiracy one or more of the defendants threatened to evict residents and tenants that did not vote or did not vote as directed. Prosecutors say other voters were threatened with the loss of their job with the city.

In December, Ruth Robinson was convicted of conspiracy, federal program fraud, theft of social security disability benefits and aggravated identity theft during an unrelated federal Social Security fraud trial. Robinson will sentenced in July on that case.

In the same case, Ginger Halbert pleaded guilty to conspiracy, federal program fraud and aggravated identity theft. Halbert was a volunteer city employee.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



ORIGINAL STORY 4/30/14
PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WSAZ) -- One of the six people charged in a federal vote buying case that prosecutors say involved the former mayor of Martin, Ky. has pleaded guilty, avoiding a trial set to begin next week.

Henry Mullins pleaded guilty plea to one count of vote-buying during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Pikeville on Monday, according to court documents.

Mullins, along former Martin Mayor Ruth Thomasine Robinson, her husband, step-son and three campaign workers were indicted on federal vote-buying and civil rights conspiracy charges back in December.

Ruth Robinson, James “Red” Robinson, James Steven Robinson, Ginger Michelle Halbert, Johnny T. Moore and Mullins are each charged with civil rights conspiracy.

Ruth Robinson, James “Red” Robinson, Moore and Mullins are also charged with one count of vote-buying.

James Steven Robinson is charged with three counts of vote-buying.

Their trial on the charges is set for May 6 in Pikeville.

Federal prosecutors say the charges stem from the November 2012 General Election for Martin Mayor in which Robinson was seeking re-election.

According to the Mullins plea agreement, “the Defendant (Mullins) was provided money by the husband of the mayor of Martin, Kentucky (James “Red” Robinson) and instructed to use it to buy votes. The Defendant (Mullins) went to an apartment complex and located some potential voters. He gave J.H. ten dollars and asked him to vote for the mayor.”

Mullins will be sentenced in August.

Because the ballot included federal races, the case became a federal one.

According to the December indictment, in many instances these residents were “poor, physically, mentally or developmentally disabled, and felt intimidated and coerced into complying with the instructions of the defendants with respect to voting," according to the indictment.

The indictment also charges that as part of the conspiracy one or more of the defendants threatened to evict residents and tenants that did not vote or did not vote as directed. Prosecutors say other voters were threatened with the loss of their job with the city.

In December, Ruth Robinson was found guilty on all counts during an unrelated federal Social Security fraud trial.

Robinson was convicted of conspiracy, federal program fraud, theft of social security disability benefits and aggravated identity theft.

In the same case, Ginger Halbert pleaded guilty to conspiracy, federal program fraud and aggravated identity theft. Halbert was a volunteer city employee.

Robinson’s daughter, Christine Whicker was also convicted on 8 courts during the trial.

All charges against Ethel Clouse were dismissed in a motion by the U.S. Attorney, according to court officials.

Whicker, 42, is the former director of the Martin Community Center, while Clouse, 68, was a bookkeeper for the city.

Robinson and Whicker will sentenced in July. Halbert is scheduled to be sentenced in June.


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