Office of the Attorney General
Two Convicted On All Counts in Vote Buying Conspiracy in Breathitt County
Attorney General Jack Conway, United States Attorney of the Eastern District, Kerry B. Harvey, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI, Perrye Turner, and Jack Smith, Chief of the Public Integrity Division at the Department of Justice jointly announce the conviction of two Eastern Kentuckians for buying votes in the May 2010 primary election in Breathitt County.
A federal jury in Lexington convicted 61-year-old Naomi Johnson and 44-year-old Earl Young of conspiring to buy votes and one count each of vote buying. The verdict was returned on April 11, 2012 following nearly three days of trial and more than three hours of deliberation. The charges were the result of an investigation by the Attorney General’s office and the FBI. The U.S. Attorney’s Office was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Taylor and Richard B. Evans with the Public Integrity Division.
Another co-defendant, 61-year-old Jackie Jennings pled guilty to two vote buying counts and a conspiracy charge during the first day of the trial. Evidence at the trial proved that the three defendants conspired to buy votes for Michael Salyers, a candidate for county Magistrate.
Testimony proved that Salyers was provided hundreds of dollars to pay individuals to cast their votes for him by absentee ballot. Evidence showed that the defendants traveled with voters to the courthouse. Young and Jennings verified that the voters voted. Voters were paid after informing Salyers they voted for him. One witness testified that he was paid $25.
Salyers pled guilty to the vote buying conspiracy in February. Jennings, Johnson and Young will appear in federal court for their sentences on July 26. Salyers will be sentenced on May 23. Each defendant faces up to five years in prison.