FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Four eastern Kentucky officials were indicted on Thursday on federal charges that they misappropriated public funds to influence the outcome of an election last year.
Knott County Judge-Executive Randall Clinton Thompson, deputy judge-executives John Mac Combs and Phillip G. Champion, and county employee Ronnie Adams allegedly distributed thousands of dollars worth of government-owned gravel, asphalt and building materials to private citizens in an effort to get them to vote for Thompson during last year's election.
The four didn't immediately return a telephone call seeking comment Friday morning.
State Auditor Crit Luallen, whose office helped in the investigation that led to the federal indictment, called it "a sad day for Kentucky" when public corruption charges are brought against government officials.
"It should be reassuring to all Kentuckians that state and federal officials can work closely together on cases like these, ensuring that allegations of misconduct are fully investigated," she said.
Eastern Kentucky has had a history of federal election fraud investigations. The previous Knott County judge-executive, Donnie Newsome, served 16 months in federal prison after being convicted of election fraud in 2003.
Federal prosecutors have also pursued cases in a number of other Appalachian counties, the latest of which was Bath.
More than a dozen people were charged in an alleged scheme in Bath County to pay impoverished residents to vote for particular candidates in a local election. Among those charged were candidates for judge-executive, county attorney and sheriff, all of whom were either convicted or pleaded guilty.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)