The Commonwealth Iconoclast

A site dedicated to covering issues relevant to the Commonwealth of Virginia, and nation at large, plus other interesting things too, as I see fit...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Appalachia Investigation Widens


Election fraud investigation sparks new inquiries.

New Special Prosecutor named by panel of Judges!

Illegal gambling tied to ongoing investigation?

Where is it all going to end?


In the sad story of official corruption in the Southwest Virginia community of Appalachia, The Richmond Times Dispatch reported last week new developments in the widening investigation.

Readers of the Iconoclast will recall that this whole mess got started about two and a half years ago (May of 2004) as a result of complaints and allegations of strange and goofy election practices in the Town of Appalachia.

When it was learned that votes were being bought for as little as a bag of pork rinds (I kid you not), there was the inevitable snickering and guffawing throughout the Commonwealth and even the nation, the story having made the national news!

The snickering stopped, however, when the announcements came of the 300 page indictment, including 917 separate charges against no less than 14 important citizens of the Town of Appalachia including none other than The Honorable Ben Ellis Cooper.

Along with Mayor Cooper, also indicted were Councilman Owen Sherrett III, Benjamin Surber, head of the Appalachia Police Department, and eleven other cronies and relatives who shared in the “privileges of office” during the reign of Mayor Cooper.

The 300 page indictment revealed a disturbing pattern of dirty local politics, vindictiveness, greed, megalomania and out right corruption by public officials.

Once again in May of this year (see earlier Iconoclast report) , the community was again rocked by a major police action to uncover a major illegal gambling activities and that they were possibly related to the official corruption investigation.

Initially, this investigation was being led by Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chad Dotson, who stepped aside to be replaced by two Norton attorneys, Tim McAffee and Greg Stewart as Special Prosecutors.

While McAffee and Stewart started the investigation into the illegal gambling investigation, a three Judge panel, last week, appointed the a new Special Prosecutor, Lee Harrel, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney from Wythe County to handle the illegal gambling investigation.

Both Special Prosecutors McAffee and Stewart will remain to prosecute the voter-fraud case against the 14 persons indicted so far.

This makes three Special Prosecutors working on the widening investigation in the little Town of Appalachia.

Given the incredibly complex nature of this widening investigation, it is easy to see why they now need three Special Prosecutors. Expect this developing story to continue for many months if not years before the whole story is played out. We wouldn't be surprised if more indictments are not on the way.

The Iconoclast will keep its readers updated periodically on this sordid story. Maybe we can learn something from it.

Note: As always, the Iconoclast appreciates additional insights and tips from readers who are close to ground zero. Information may be sent confidentially directly to commonwealthiconoclst@yahoo.com .

RELATED STORIES:

Pork Rind Scandal No Longer A Laughing Matter

Pork Rinds: A threat to democracy?

Three Cheers for Grand Jury...

2 Comments:

  • At 8/17/2006 8:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    These ladies and gentlemen never expected that anyone would be watching. Fun and profit for all. All the time, these fine citizens were gloating in the limelight as important people who were smarter than everybody else and above the law. Surprise, surprise.

     
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