11:36 PM EDT on Friday, March 16, 2007
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- A judge-executive serving a rural county on the edge of Kentucky’s Bluegrass region has been convicted of conspiring to buy votes in last year’s primary election.
Bath County Judge-Executive Walter Bascom Shrout was also found guilty of making false statements to a federal agent and obstruction of justice, said U.S. Attorney Amul R. Thapar.
U.S. District Judge Joseph M. Hood ordered Shrout to resign from office no later than noon EDT on Monday.
Shrout, 54, a Democrat from Sharpsburg, was indicted in November after an FBI investigation into vote buying allegations in the primary, which he won.
A federal grand jury indicted 11 others on vote fraud charges uncovered in the investigation.
“Our election process is the very basis of our democracy,” Thapar said in a statement Friday. “When people can not vote freely and independently, it takes away a government by and for the people.”
Shrout, who is free on bond, faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. He is scheduled for sentencing on July 9 in Lexington.
In February, Bath County Attorney Donald “Champ” Maze pleaded guilty to vote buying and perjury in connection with an alleged scheme to rig the primary election. He entered the plea on the fifth day of his trial, admitting to paying three people between $100 and $200 to vote for him.
Hood also ordered Maze to resign. Maze, who is free on bond, faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. His sentencing was set for May 7.
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.
Another judge-executive candidate, Michael Swartz, who was Shrout’s main opponent in the primary election, has also pleaded guilty to vote buying.