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Pendleton County mail carrier sentenced for attempted election fraud

Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 3:44 PM EDT
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ELKINS, W.Va. (WHSV) - Thomas Cooper, a mail carrier in Pendleton County, was sentenced today to five years of probation, with the first six months home confinement, for attempted election fraud, Acting U.S. Attorney Randolph J. Bernard announced.

Cooper, age 48, of Dry Fork, West Virginia, pled guilty in July 2020 to one count of “Attempt to Defraud the Residents of West Virginia of a Fair Election” and one count of “Injury to the Mail.” Cooper held a U.S. Postal Service contract to deliver mail in Pendleton County.

In April 2020, the Clerk of Pendleton County received “2020 Primary Election COVID-19 Mail-In Absentee Request” forms from eight voters on which the voter’s party-ballot request appeared to have been altered, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia.

The clerk reported the finding to the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office, which began an investigation. The investigation found five ballot requests that had been altered from “Democrat” to “Republican.” On three other requests, the party wasn’t changed, but the request had been altered, officials say.

Cooper was responsible for the mail delivery of the three towns from which the tampered requests were mailed: Onego, Riverton, and Franklin, West Virginia. Officials say Cooper admitted Monday to altering some of the requests.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen D. Warner prosecuted the case on behalf of the government. The West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office, the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office, and the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General investigated.

U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Kleeh presided.

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