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Ex-Lincoln commissioner wants lighter sentence

By Staff reports

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- An incarcerated former Lincoln County commissioner is asking a federal judge to reduce or set aside his 21-month sentence for lying about altered absentee ballot applications, saying his attorney did not effectively represent him.

Thomas Ramey, who is currently representing himself, is serving his sentence in a federal correctional institution in Morgantown. He filed his case in the U.S. District Court in Charleston on Sept. 25.

He was sentenced last year for lying to FBI agents when he said he did not know who altered absentee ballot applications after they were filed in the County Clerk's Office for the Lincoln's 2010 Democratic primary. He later admitted to knowing who made the illegal alterations.

Before Ramey was sentenced, U.S. District Judge Thomas E. Johnston sentenced former Lincoln County clerk Donnie Whitten to 12 months and former sheriff Jerry Bowman to 18 months in prison for their roles in the scheme.

In a court filing, Ramey said that his attorney, Gregory Campbell, did not offer effective counsel. Ramey alleges he was told to expect no more than six months in prison if he pleaded guilty to making a false statement.

Other representations "regarding the sentence would prove to be false," Ramey alleged.

Campbell did not immediately return a phone message Monday night.     

Ramey also argued that Secretary of State Natalie Tennant failed to do anything about inflated voter rolls in Lincoln County and that she did not rebuke Whitten for failing to attend necessary trainings, among other claims.      

"He can say whatever he wants to whenever he's behind bars," said Jake Glance, a spokesman for the Secretary of State's office.

Glance said Ramey's allegations are self-serving.

Ramey said in the filing that he took it upon himself to make sure thousands of deceased, non-resident or multiple-registered voters were purged from the Lincoln County voter rolls.

Tennant had been aware of the inflated rolls but failed to act, he alleged.

Glance said the office was aware of the problem but clearly acted to correct it. 

"I think the fact that he's in prison right now shows we did take action," Glance said.

Ramey's case serves as a lesson "that if you commit election fraud while Natalie Tennant is Secretary of State, you're going to go to prison," Glance said.    

 


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