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Jennings faces felony charge in elections case
SoVaNow.com / February 27, 2013Mecklenburg County supervisor James “Jim” Jennings of Chase City has been charged with one felony count of elections fraud stemming from a document he filed during his re-election campaign to the Board of Supervisors in 2011.
The direct indictment charges that Jennings willfully made a false material statement on a form required to be filed under Virginia’s elections laws. Jennings faces a Class 5 felony “punishable by a fine up to $2,500 and imprisonment up to ten years,” according to the circulator’s affidavit on the petition of qualified voters.
On or about July 21, Jennings filed with the Mecklenburg County Registrar 15 separate petitions containing the signatures of more than 150 people who, by signing the document, claimed to support Jennings’ candidacy for the Board of Supervisors in District 7. Jennings signed each of these documents as the circulator, swearing or affirming that he “witnessed the signature of each person who signed” the document.
One of the petitions with signatures from five registered voters has become the subject of an investigation conducted by Special Agent B.D. Tuggle of the Virginia State Police. The voters who signed the petition were C. L. Garner, Jr., C. Lee Bailey, Jr., Patrese Smith, Glenn R. Wood and Irene Card.
Sources close to the case said the investigation sprung from a complaint claiming that Jennings falsely declared himself a witness to each signature on one of his petitions. It was alleged that at least one person had signed the petition outside the presence of Jennings.
When asked whether the five signatures on this particular document were needed to qualify Jennings’s candidacy, Mecklenburg Elections Registrar Jason Corwin replied, “Jennings only needed 125 signatures to have his name placed before the voters and he submitted more than 150 qualified signatures.”
Because the complaint involves a member of the Board of Supervisors who has oversight of the budgets of all court officials, according to Circuit Court Clerk Gene Coleman, Circuit Judge Leslie Osborne, as is his right, recused every judge in Mecklenburg County from involvement in the case.
Subsequently, the Supreme Court appointed a Circuit Court judge in Chesterfield County to handle the case. That judge, who has since retired, Coleman said, chose to appoint a special prosecutor and assigned the case the Chesterfield County Commonwealth’s Attorney William Davenport.
The actual prosecution is being handled by Barbara Cook, who is a member of Davenport’s office.
Calls to Cook at the Chesterfield County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office were not returned.
Mecklenburg County Commonwealth’s Attorney Nora Miller said she received a certified letter containing allegations against a member of the Board of Supervisors and immediately turned it over to the Circuit Court. Since then, her office has had no further involvement with the matter, Mille said.
Miller did not identify the person who sent the letter or the exact nature of the allegations set forth in it.
Jennings said yesterday he could not comment on the case. His next court date is March 18, at which time the case is expected to be set for trial, but that may be delayed until a new judge is appointed to oversee the case.
Jennings, in addition to his duties on the Board of Supervisors, is the President of the Mecklenburg County Farm Bureau, District 11 Representative to the Virginia Farm Bureau and President of JF Leaf, Ltd.
CommentsWhat a waste of time and tax payer money.
- By allpolitical2 on 02 / 27 / 13
CommentsWonder who Mr. Jennings made mad??? Must be doing too good of a job on the BOS.
- By Really? on 02 / 27 / 13
Commentsthis will open the door to a new BOS member, which will not be good for meck co. Pretty soon we will have a board of morons like the school board!
- By joe citizen on 02 / 28 / 13
CommentsThis is not surprising. Most of the BOS and School Board members use 'friends' to go around and gather signatures for their petitions. I know for School Board petitions, you can use someone to gather signatures for you but they must reside in your district. That is not always the way it transpires though,,,,,they'll uses anyone that happens to be a crony to do their work for them. Ive seen that first hand. Cronyism and nepotism are the words of the day in Mecklenburg!! And personally, I think the BOS NEEDS to be shaken and stirred,,,,,get rid of the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality that seems to prevail and get some proactive people on board. And our school board is better than it has ever been,,,,,maybe not the Superintendent, but the majority of the board is truly vested in the success of our students. Just my humble opinion.
- By Concerned Citizen on 03 / 01 / 13
CommentsI know that the voter registrar checks to make sure that everyone (signer and witness) on the petitions is a registered voter in the proper district. Of course, they stop counting once they reach 125 valid signatures.
- By John on 03 / 01 / 13
CommentsMUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING!
- By Much on 03 / 02 / 13
CommentsYou are correct on the Supt in my opinion, but time will tell on the school board. The tail is wagging dog! Time will tell my friend, in a short time too!!!
- By Joe Citizen on 03 / 04 / 13
CommentsWhat about that liar in the White House?
- By Anne on 03 / 13 / 13
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