PIKEVILLE — Former Martin Mayor Ruth Thomasine Robinson and five others will have to wait just a little bit longer before appearing before a federal judge to answer charges of vote-buying and conspiracy.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Edward B. Atkins signed an order Monday delaying the six defendants’ arraignment until Thursday. They had originally been scheduled to appear Tuesday.
No reason was given for the delay in Atkins’ order, but it came the same day as snowy weather and arctic temperatures blew into the region.
Robinson, her husband, James “Red” Robinson; her step-son, James Steven Robinson; Ginger Michelle Halbert; Johnny T. Moore; and Henry A. Mulins were each accused in an indictment last month with a single count of civil rights conspiracy. Ruth Thomasine Robinson, James “Red” Robinson, Moore and Mullins also each face a single count of vote-buying, while James Steven Robinson is charged with three counts of vote-buying. Halbert is the only defendant not charged with vote-buying.
According to the indictment, the six conspired to induce public housing residents and tenants renting homes owned by the former mayor to vote for her by absentee ballot, using an already completed ballot, during her 2010 re-election bid. Some of the voters were allegedly told they could get better apartments if they voted for Ruth Thomasine Robinson, while others were allegedly told they would face eviction if they did not. And the indictment alleges the defendants backed up those threats.
“It was part of the conspiracy that one or more of the defendants caused residents and tenants to be evicted because they believed they had not voted, or had voted incorrectly,” the indictment reads. “It was part of the conspiracy that Ruth Thomasine Robinson directed Martine police officers to serve eviction notices on tenants.
“It was part of the conspiracy that on at least one occasion, two of the defendants harassed a qualified voters about voting to the point that the voter would not come out of his apartment to vote because he was in fear of physical harm.”
Former Mayor Robinson lost that election by three votes.
In the event of conviction, the conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 in fines. The vote-buying charges each carry maximum penalties of five years in prison and a $250,000 in fines.