Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

December 25, 2013

Former Floyd mayor indicted again

Kenneth Hart
The Independent

PIKEVILLE — A former mayor of the Floyd County town of Martin has been indicted on federal criminal charges for the second time in two months.

A U.S. District Court grand jury sitting in Pikeville last week indicted Ruth Thomasine Robinson, her husband, her stepson and three of her campaign workers on vote-buying and civil rights conspiracy charges.

Robinson, her husband, James “Red” Robinson, and stepson James Steven Robinson all were named in the indictment, along with Ginger Michelle Halbert, Johnny T. Moore and Henry A. Mullins.

All six defendants were charged with civil rights conspiracy. Ruth and James Robinson were each charged with one count of vote-buying. James Steven Robinson was charged with three counts of vote-buying.

The charges stem from the November 2012 general election, in which Ruth Robinson was seeking re-election. According to the indictment, one or more of the defendants approached residents of public housing and tenants of homes Ruth Robinson owned and requested they obtain absentee ballots for the election.

In many instances, the residents were “poor, physically, mentally or developmentally disabled, and felt intimidated and coerced into complying with the instructions of the defendants with respect to voting," the indictment states

The indictment also alleges that as part of the conspiracy, one or more of the defendants threatened to evict residents and tenants that did not vote or did not vote as directed. Prosecutors say other voters were threatened with the loss of their jobs with the city.

The case landed in federal court because the ballot contained federal races, including the one for president.

All six are scheduled to be arraigned on Jan. 7.

Last month, Ruth Robinson, her daughter, Rita Christine Whicker, Halbert and one other city employee, Ethel Lee Clouse, were indicted on unrelated charges for allegedly engaging in a scheme to defraud the Social Security Administration and to misapply federal funds.

All four defendants were charged with conspiracy to defraud the SSA, theft of Social Security disability benefits and aggravated identity theft. All have pleaded not guilty.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.