Former official sentenced in vote buying case

A convicted Clay County official who conspired with a former judge, school superintendent and others to gain power and control politics in the county was sentenced Tuesday to 292 months in prison by U.S. District Court Judge Danny C. Reeves.

William E. Stivers, 58, was sentenced for his role in conspiracies that involved racketeering, money laundering, obstruction of justice, bribery and voter fraud.

Stivers is the first of eight defendants to be sentenced this week. All eight were convicted following a seven week trial in Frankfort last March.

As an election officer, Stivers helped control the Clay County board of elections that used corrupt tactics such as vote buying and vote stealing to enrich themselves and gain power and authority within the county. His criminal behavior helped determined the results in the primary and general elections for the years 2002, 2004 and 2006.

Testimony at last year’s trial accused Stivers of helping ensure victories for the candidates the conspirators wanted in office by changing votes at the voting machines, paying voters, and recruiting others to transport voters to the polls for the purpose of vote buying among other illegal actions.

Court documents also show that he recruited others to join the scheme through acts of bribery and extortion. With his help, the board pooled over $400,000 in the 2002 primary election in Clay County for purpose of bribing voters.

In addition, Stivers and co-defendant Charles Wayne Jones boasted on recorded conversations how they helped pick certain juries and could influence the outcome of court cases that co-conspirator Cletus Maricle presided over as circuit court judge.

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