Former Lincoln County commissioner sentenced to 21 months in pri - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Former Lincoln County commissioner sentenced to 21 months in prison

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A former Lincoln County commissioner was sentenced to 21 months in prison followed by two years of supervised released. 

For the first time, Thomas Ramey Jr. spoke to 13 News after he left the courtroom.

He said, "I will say this, for what I did, which was not a part of the conspiracy, simply lying to the federal investigators in regards to the applications being altered, I am very sorry for that. I love Lincoln County. Lincoln County is a wonderful place. Lincoln County will prosper. Lincoln County will grow and Lincoln County will be a better place in the future for people to raise a family and for people to move. I wish people them all the best."

Ramey will also face a $1,000 fine.

The judge in the case told Ramey that his sentence would be a message to Lincoln County to prevent another incident like this from happening again.

United States Attorney Booth Goodwin said voter fraud will not be tolerated in the state.

"You cannot steal elections in Southern West Virginia and if you try, you will go to jail," he said.

The scandal upset many Lincoln County residents who felt cheated and personally violated that those in power were trying to skirt the system.

Secretary of State Natalie Tennant said the fight for free and fair elections will continue.

"For me, there never is rest, there never is rest. I will remain vigilant and our office has remained vigilant in any process of the election; if someone is trying to manipulate it, if someone is simply not following the correct process," she said.

Ramey will now join his other two sidekicks, former Lincoln County Sheriff Jerry Bowman and former County Clerk Donald Whitten, who have already been sentenced to prison for their involvement.

According to court documents, "The candidates agreed that they would, together and individually, visit voters and seek to persuade them to vote absentee in the election. The candidates further agreed that they would complete absentee ballot applications for voters.

"Specifically, the candidates agreed to mark each application to indicate that the voter was unable to vote in person either because of travel or employment, regardless of whether those reasons were true."

Ramey also tried to re-alter the illegally filed absentee ballot applications when he learned that other people were becoming suspicious, according to court documents.

In court, Ramey said he did not know he was breaking the law at first.  He said he only lied after he realized how deep he had become entangled in the mess.

Despite his sentence, Ramey will be allowed to run for a political office in 10 years if he chooses to do so.

For previous coverage of the story click here.