September 30, 2010
Benton official found guilty of voter fraud
A Benton County jury has found a county supervisor guilty of committing voter fraud, Attorney General Jim Hood said Thursday.
Tate King, supervisor of Benton County, was found guilty of one count of voter fraud last week before Circuit Judge Andrew Howorth. The judge set King’s sentencing for October 8 in Ashland. King faces up to five years behind bars or up to a $5,000 fine.
King was indicted by a grand jury following an investigation by the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division, stemming from the August 7, 2007, primary election and the August 27, 2007, runoff elections in Benton County. The investigation showed King paid people to vote for him on two separate occasions.
The jury hung up 8-4 on another count against King. Judge Howorth set retrial on that count for October 4.
Three plead guilty in voter fraud case
Three additional defendants have pled guilty to voter fraud in Benton County, Attorney General Jim Hood announced.
Ronnie Wilkerson, Jasper Buggs and James Bullock entered their pleas before Judge Andrew Howorth in Benton County Circuit Court Monday morning.
Wilkerson pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit voter fraud; Buggs pled guilty to two counts of voter fraud; and Bullock pled guilty to five counts of voter fraud. Each defendant has agreed to testify on behalf of the state in the remaining voter fraud cases.
Judge Howorth sentenced all three defendants to five years, with four suspended and one to serve under house arrest on each count with all counts to run concurrently. Each defendant received four years of post release supervision and must pay $1,000 to the crime victims compensation fund.
Tate King, supervisor of Benton County, also appeared in court Monday and pled guilty to a count of voter fraud that a jury hung up on last week. The same jury found him guilty of another count of voter fraud. The court also removed King from public office Monday.
As of Monday, 14 people have either pled guilty or have been found guilty in this case. Two others await trial – Kenny Ray Bowen, charged with one count of conspiracy to commit voter fraud and two counts of voter fraud; and Billy Street, charged with one count of conspiracy to commit voter fraud and two counts of voter fraud.
The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Stan Alexander and Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division.
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