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Clay County vote-buying restitution sought

MANCHESTER, KY -- Federal prosecutors want to collect at least $3.4 million from several prominent Clay County residents who allegedly profited from a vote-buying scheme, according to a new indictment in the case, reports The Lexington Herald-Leader in its Saturday edition.

The indictment also added another public official to those charged in the alleged conspiracy: Magistrate Stanley Bowling, who owns an excavating company and has done business with Manchester and Clay County.

Bowling handed out money to buy votes for others, and to benefit himself politically and personally, and exerted influence over choosing precinct officers who played key roles in the vote fraud, the indictment said.

Bowling, who was elected magistrate in 2002, was arrested Friday and will be arraigned Monday.

The indictment is the latest development in a federal investigation that has shaken the county's longtime power structure.

More than a dozen elected officials or public employees have been convicted or charged in the investigation. Others have been mentioned in vote-buying allegations, but not charged.

Those charged with Bowling in the latest phase of the case are former Circuit Judge R. Cletus Maricle; Douglas Adams, who recently retired as school superintendent; county Clerk Freddy Thompson; Charles Wayne Jones, the county's Democratic election commissioner; William Stivers, who has been an election officer; and Bart Morris and his wife, Debra, who own a waste-hauling company that does business with the city. They have pleaded not guilty.

The eight allegedly used the county board of elections as a vehicle to rig elections by buying and stealing votes from 2002 to 2007.

The goal was to gain and hold power so they could enrich themselves and associates, the indictment charges.

They are charged with racketeering, a charge that has been used against organized-crime figures.

The new indictment added an allegation that they conspired to launder money used in the vote-buying scheme. It did not describe the source of that money, however, and a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office was not available for comment, reports The Lexington Herald-Leader.

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