Mail carrier sentenced in election misconduct case

ELKINS, W.Va. – The mail carrier convicted in mishandling absentee voter requests has been sentenced to five years probation with six months to be served on home confinement.

Thomas Cooper, 48, of Dry Fork, pleaded guilty last July to single counts of injury to the mail and attempt to defraud the residents of West Virginia of a fair election.

Investigators with the Attorney General helped put the case together for the Secretary of State’s Office.

“This conviction and sentencing should serve as a strong warning to anyone else who feels tempted to commit election fraud,” Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said. “As we have stressed in the past, our team remains committed to protecting the integrity of elections in West Virginia. We will use every means provided by the law to do so.”

Court documents say Cooper fraudulently altered eight absentee ballot requests in Pendleton County, of which the complaint stated he fraudulently changed the party affiliation on five from Democrat to Republican.

Cooper had access to the documents through his employment as a rural mail carrier. He was responsible for mail delivery in the three towns from which the tampered requests were mailed – Onego, Riverton and Franklin.

According to the affidavit, Cooper admitted to altering some of the requests.

The alterations were caught by an elections official in the Pendleton County Courthouse and reported to the state’s Election Fraud Task Force.