West Virginia mail carrier avoids prison time in election fraud case

West Virginia

ELKINS, W.Va. (WBOY) – A mail carrier in Pendleton County was sentenced Monday to five years of probation, with the first six months on home confinement, for attempted election fraud, Acting U.S. Attorney Randolph Bernard announced.

Thomas Cooper, 48, of Dry Fork, pleaded guilty in July 2020 to one count of “Attempt to Defraud the Residents of West Virginia of a Fair Election” and one count of “Injury to the Mail.” Cooper held a U.S. Postal Service contract to deliver mail in Pendleton County. In April 2020, the Clerk of Pendleton County received “2020 Primary Election COVID-19 Mail-In Absentee Request” forms from eight voters on which the voter’s party-ballot request appeared to have been altered.

The clerk reported the finding to the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office, which began an investigation. The investigation found five ballot requests that had been altered from “Democrat” to “Republican.” On three other requests, the party wasn’t changed, but the request had been altered.

Cooper was responsible for the mail delivery of the three towns from which the tampered requests were mailed: Onego, Riverton, and Franklin. Cooper admitted to altering some of the requests.

The West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office, the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office, and the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General investigated.

“This conviction and sentencing should serve as a strong warning to anyone else who feels tempted to commit election fraud,” West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said. “As we have stressed in the past, our team remains committed to protecting the integrity of elections in West Virginia. We will use every means provided by the law to do so.”

U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Kleeh presided over Monday’s sentencing.

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