Former West Memphis Councilman and Former West Memphis Police Officer Sentenced for Conspiracy to Commit Election Fraud
|U.S. Attorney’s Office May 22, 2013|
LITTLE ROCK—Patrick C. Harris, Attorney for the United States, acting under authority conferred by 28 U.S.C. § 515, and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Randall C. Coleman announced the sentencing of two Crittenden County men on a charge of conspiracy to commit election fraud. The individuals sentenced by District Judge Kristine Baker were former West Memphis City Councilman Phillip Wayne Carter, age 44, and former West Memphis Police Officer Sam Malone, age 32. These defendants entered guilty pleas to the conspiracy charge after waiving indictment and the filing of a felony information on September 5, 2012. In doing so, each acknowledged his participation in a conspiracy to bribe voters to influence absentee votes in the Arkansas District 54 primary, its runoff election, and the general election, all of which were held between February and July 2011.
Phillip Carter was sentenced today to three years’ probation, with five months to be completed on home confinement. Carter will be restricted to his residence except for his employment. Carter may be subject to electronic monitoring at the discretion of the Probation Office. He was also fined $2,500 and ordered to complete 100 hours of community service. Finally, he has to pay a $100 special assessment.
Sam Malone was sentenced in a hearing held May 21, 2013, to three years’ probation, the first 72 months of which will be spent on home confinement. Malone may be subject to electronic monitoring at the discretion of the Probation Office. Malone will be restricted to his home while on confinement except for the hours of his employment. He was also ordered to complete 100 hours of community service. Malone was also ordered to pay a special assessment of $100.
As a result of the federal charges and guilty plea, Carter resigned from his position as a Crittenden County Juvenile Probation Officer and Malone resigned from his position as a West Memphis Police Department officer.
“This is believed to be the first case in the United States in which state election law violations have been prosecuted under the Travel Act, which is 18 U.S.C. 1952(a)(3),” stated Harris. “The case essentially dismantled a corrupt election machine in Crittenden County that has been in place for many years. It resulted in the resignation of a member of the State House of Representatives, the resignation of a county Juvenile Probation officer, and the resignation of a West Memphis police officer. The defendants can no longer serve in any capacity as public officials. Carter was a member of the West Memphis City Counsel, and Malone was a Crittenden County Quorum Court member and Crittenden County School Board member.”
“This case serves as an unfortunate reminder of how pervasive public corruption can be,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Randall C. Coleman. “Arkansans deserve to have both fair and honest elections and fair and honest public officials. I encourage anyone with a tip about public corruption in this state to contact our ArkTrust Public Corruption Task Force by calling the hotline at 501-221-8200 or by sending an e-mail to Little.Rock@ic.fbi.gov.”
According to the felony information to which Malone and Carter pled guilty, Hudson Hallum, age 29, was elected to House Seat 54 on July 12, 2011. Kent Hallum, age 54, managed the finances and certain logistics of his son’s campaign for the District 54 seat, including the campaign’s effort to solicit and secure votes cast by absentee ballot. Hudson Hallum hired Carter, who was both a West Memphis City Councilman and a Crittenden County Juvenile Probation Officer, to implement the Hallum campaign’s absentee ballot strategy. Malone, who was a West Memphis Police officer, assisted Carter in implementing the Hallum campaign’s absentee ballot strategy.
Hudson Hallum, along with others, declared his candidacy as a Democrat in the special primary election for House Seat 54, which took place on April 20, 2011. Because neither Hudson Hallum nor any other Democratic candidate obtained the required majority of votes in the special primary election, a special primary runoff election took place on May 10, 2011. Hudson Hallum was certified as the winner in the special primary runoff by eight votes. Hudson Hallum also won the special general election held on July 12, 2011, and was subsequently certified as the winner of the House District 54 special election.
According to the felony information, Hudson Hallum and Kent Hallum tasked Carter, Malone, and others with identifying absentee ballot voters within District 54; obtaining and distributing absentee ballot applications to particular voters; determining when absentee ballots were mailed to absentee voters by the Crittenden County Clerk’s Office; and making contact with recipients of absentee ballots to assist those voters in completing the ballots. Once such absentee ballots were completed, the absentee voters typically placed their ballots in unsealed envelopes, which were retrieved by Carter, Malone, and others and then subsequently delivered to either Hudson Hallum or Kent Hallum for inspection to ensure that the absentee ballot votes had been cast for Hudson Hallum. After inspection by Hudson Hallum or Kent Hallum, the absentee ballots that contained votes for Hudson Hallum were sealed and mailed to the Crittenden County Clerk’s Office. If a ballot contained a vote for Hudson Hallum’s opponent, it was destroyed.
At the hearing held September 5, 2012, the defendants admitted that certain absentee ballot voters received things of value in exchange for their votes being cast for Hudson Hallum. For example, in or about May 2011, Carter and Malone provided a chicken dinner to an individual in exchange for the absentee ballot votes of that individual and one other individual. Further, on or about May 4, 2011, Carter contacted Hudson Hallum about a family of eight who had requested a “family meal” in exchange for their absentee ballot votes being cast in favor of Hudson Hallum. Carter requested $20 from Hudson Hallum to pay for the food, to which request Hudson Hallum agreed.
In addition, on or about May 5, 2011, Carter notified Hudson Hallum that some absentee ballot voters were “holding on” to their absentee ballots because they needed money for food. Hudson Hallum instructed Carter to obtain money for the absentee voters from Kent Hallum. Hudson Hallum further told Carter that $20 to $40 was too much to pay for one vote, but that this amount was acceptable to pay for the votes of multiple members of a household. On that same date, Hudson Hallum also told Carter, “We need to use that black limo and buy a couple of cases of some cheap vodka and whiskey to get people to vote.” Two days later, Carter and Kent Hallum spoke with an individual in Memphis, Tennessee, about getting a discounted price for the purchase of 100 half pints of vodka for the campaign.
Kent Hallum and Hudson Hallum also waived indictment and pled guilty to the conspiracy charge on September 5, 2012. They are scheduled to appear before Judge Baker for sentencing on June 20, 2013.
State charges are pending against Leroy Grant, Eric Cox, Lorenzo Parker, Amos Sanders, and Lisa Burns related to the election fraud scheme. They were filed by special prosecutor H.G. Foster, who was appointed to a circuit court judgeship in January 2013. The case is now being prosecuted by Pulaski and Perry County Prosecutor Larry Jegley.
The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Arkansas State Police. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Tricia Harris and Angela Jegley.