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Friday, March 03, 2006

Virginia: Mayors from Pork Rinds to Indictments

Today Lynchburg Mayor Carl Hutcherson returns to Roanoke to face a slurry of motions in his upcoming trial. He faces a seven count indictment that includes, social security fraud, lying to federal agents and bank officials, and using funds from a charity for his own private use.

He is not the only Virginia mayor sitting on the hot seat. In the town of Appalachia, the mayor and 13 others are facing to what some are calling the "pork rind scandal." One voter claims that she was bribed by an offer of pork rinds.

From the Richmond Times Dispatch:

"This is not about the pork rinds," special prosecutor Tim McAfee said yesterday after announcing the indictment. "It was never about the pork rinds. We investigated things that are quite serious."

And further the Richmond Times reports:

"Since several people were charged under many of the counts, the indictment alleges a total of 917 criminal acts, predominantly vote fraud. Most of the group are accused of carrying out a scheme in which they filled out applications for absentee ballots on behalf of residents, then intercepted the blank absentee ballots at the post office and cast them to ensure the victory of three candidates: Cooper, Andy Sharrett III and Eddie Gollaway. Gollaway played no role in the scheme, according to the indictment, and he faces no charges. Members of the group also allegedly offered cigarettes and beer for votes."

13 others, beside the mayor, were also indicted, including police officers alleged to use their office to settle private grudges.

Mayor Ben Cooper has been indicted for 244 felony counts himself.

Federal prosecutors are cracking the whip and two Virginia mayors are feeling the lashes. We can only hope this will lead to some positive changes in Virginia politics, and serve as a wake up call for local politicians.

photo by bob a candid shot of Mayor Hutcherson clutching his Bible, perhaps wondering if God has forsaken him.


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