U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Kentucky
(859) 233-2661
May 9, 2014

Former Mayor of Martin Convicted of Violating Civil Rights and Buying Votes

PIKEVILLE—The former mayor of Martin, Kentucky has been convicted of intentionally violating voters’ civil rights during her reelection campaign in 2012.

On Thursday evening, a federal jury in Pikeville, Kentucky, convicted former Martin Mayor Ruth Thomasine Robinson, 69, of conspiracy to violate civil rights and one count of vote buying. The jury also convicted her husband, James “Red” Robinson, 64, of the conspiracy count and one vote buying count. Her stepson, James Steven Robinson, 32, was found guilty of the conspiracy count and two of three vote buying counts and another co-defendant, Johnny T. Moore, 32, was acquitted of all charges. The jury returned the verdicts after approximately two hours of deliberation, following three days of trial.

According to evidence introduced at trial, Thomasine Robinson and her co-conspirators intimated poor and disabled citizens in order to gain their votes during the 2012 general election in Martin. For instance, members of the conspiracy directed residents of public housing to vote by absentee ballot under the supervision of Thomasine Robinson or another member of the conspiracy. The members of the conspiracy also targeted residents of private housing owned and leased by Thomasine Robinson.

The trial testimony established that the members of the conspiracy filled out absentee ballots, marking the conspirators’ choice of candidates, and then had the voters sign the pre-marked ballots. Voters who cooperated with this arrangement and voted for Thomasine Robinson received promises of better living arrangements and other consideration. Voters who did not comply faced consequences such as eviction and the loss of priority for public housing.

In addition, the evidence at trial established that the defendants offered to pay several voters to vote for Thomasine Robinson.

Kerry B. Harvey, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky; Perrye K. Turner, Special Agent in Charge, FBI; and Jack Conway, Kentucky Attorney General, jointly announced the conviction.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI and the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kenneth R. Taylor and Andrew T. Boone represent the federal government in this case.

Sentencing is scheduled for September 9. The defendants face a maximum of 10 years in prison for the conspiracy offense and a maximum of five years in prison on the vote buying offenses. However, the court must consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statutes before imposing a sentence.

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