Witness tampering added to charges in Monroe County vote buying cases

Witness tampering has been added to the list of  federal charges against Brian “Wormy” Hodge, who is accused of buying votes to help Randy White get elected Monroe County sheriff in 2014, reports the News Sentinel.

 Hodge was initially indicted in February on charges he recruited now-confessed chronic vote buyer Betty Jane Best to funnel money he supplied to voters willing to cast their ballots for White and help those voters use the absentee ballot process to do so.

The new indictment adds another charge – witness tampering – and comes after current Monroe County Sheriff Tommy Jones tried to put Hodge on his payroll despite Hodge’s pending indictment… Testimony showed Jones also worked in White’s campaign with Hodge and got his job as sheriff when a judge ruled White wasn’t even qualified to be Monroe County’s top law enforcer. Jones then hired White as his chief deputy.

(Assistant U.S. Attorney Bart) Slabbekorn revealed at a hearing over Jones’ proposed hiring of Hodge as a jailer a secret recording in which Hodge is heard telling Best, 60, in a July 2016 conversation to lie to Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents probing the alleged vote-buying scheme. Best has since pleaded guilty in the case, admitting she has bought votes in other elections and helped Hodge buy them in White’s race.

That recording is the underlying basis for the new witness tampering charge.

White and Jones have not been charged, and Slabbekorn has been mum on whether they are targets in the probe. But Slabbekorn used his questioning of Jones in a recent hearing to explore what ties Jones may have had to Hodge and his alleged votes-for-cash scheme.

Hodge isn’t talking to authorities. He’s pleaded innocent via attorney Michael McGovern. The new indictment ups the stakes for Hodge should he continue to stay quiet about the alleged vote-buying conspiracy and take his case to trial.

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