County Attorney Pleads Guilty To Vote Buying

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - A county attorney in eastern Kentucky
pleaded guilty Tuesday to vote buying and perjury in connection
with an alleged scheme to rig last year's primary election.
Bath County Attorney Donald "Champ" Maze entered the plea on
the fifth day of his jury trial in U.S. District Court in
Lexington, where he was charged with vote buying, perjury and
obstruction of justice. He admitted paying three people between
$100 and $200 to vote for him, U.S. Attorney Amul Thapar said in a
statement.
Judge Joseph M. Hood ordered Maze to resign his post as county
attorney by noon Wednesday.
There was no answer at Maze's law office Tuesday afternoon.
Maze's attorney, Ned Pillersdorf, told The Associated Press Maze
agreed to the deal after an additional allegation surfaced that he
illegally tried to contact a juror on his trial last week.
"The government had some evidence that tended to suggest my
client was involved in an attempt to jury tamper," Pillersdorf
said. "They were going to introduce it. We negotiated a plea."
Maze faces up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three
years of supervised release at his May 7 sentencing. He was
released on bond.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Taylor said in an interview that he
doubted Maze would receive the maximum sentence as a result of his
plea.
"I'm not in public going to quantify the size of the fish,"
Taylor said. "His actions are his actions. I will say there are
probably more involved people in the actual vote buying. His major
problem was as much the coverup as anything."
Taylor said the plea stipulates prosecutors won't go after Maze
concerning the jury tampering allegations but do reserve the right
to charge others who might have been involved. More indictments
could come soon, he said.
Maze won the May 2006 primary against Kim Price Hunt, who won
the seat in the previous election. About 520 Bath County residents
voted absentee in the election in question - more than double the
number cast in 2002. Of those 520, nearly half filled out a form
saying they needed assistance and brought people into the voting
booth with them.
Maze's lawyers had originally denied he was involved in vote
buying and simply gave loans to clients who needed help. Ten
people, including Bath County Judge-Executive Walter Shrout, have
been charged by federal authorities. Shrout is scheduled for trial
in March. Michael Swartz, his main opponent in the May election,
has pleaded guilty to vote buying.
Maze's attorneys had claimed he and his wife, Bath Circuit Judge
Beth Maze, tipped off federal investigators about vote-buying
concerns prior to the May primary. Taylor didn't deny that was true
but said there was still ample evidence against Maze.
"I suspect people can do both," Taylor said. "They can warn
and be a contributor."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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