Special prosecutor appointed after election complaint filed in Stoddard County

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

BLOOMFIELD — A formal complaint was made to the Stoddard County Sheriff’s Department on Monday regarding the administration and certification of the recent municipal election.

After the complaint was made, Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney Russ Oliver was notified, and he then filed a motion seeking the appointment of a special prosecutor.

The allegations, according to Oliver’s motion, are “of such a nature, if true, would constitute a felony offense” regarding the “conduct of the April 2, 2019, Stoddard County municipal election, and the subsequent certification of said election on April 5, 2019.”

Oliver further writes he was told the sheriff’s department “intends to send the complaint to the Missouri State Highway Patrol-Division of Drug and Crime Control (DDCC) for completion of the investigation.”

Calls to Stoddard County Sheriff Carl Hefner seeking information regarding the allegations made in the complaint and his request for the highway patrol to investigate were not returned by press time.

“As far as we know, the election went off like it was supposed to; it was a good election,” said Cecil Weeks, who, as county clerk, certified the election, his first since taking office Jan. 1.

The voting equipment, Weeks said, worked well.

After the polls closed, supervisors, according to Weeks, brought in the thumb drives with all the votes.

“The tabular that counts all the ballots was finished a little after 8 (p.m.),” Weeks said.

A representative from the tabular company, Weeks said, was present “overseeing everything.”

Four resolution voters, two from each party, did a hand count of one precinct to make sure the paper ballots matched the tabular, Weeks explained.

“They did; they were a perfect match,” said Weeks, who indicated all the voting machines were checked and tested before they went to the various polling places.

“The machines are pretty accurate,” he said.

In his motion seeking a special prosecutor, Oliver wrote he believes “there exists an appearance of a conflict of interest and (he) is unable to serve as prosecuting attorney for this investigation, and for the determination of the filing of charges, if any, are appropriate.”

Oliver further wrote Butler County Prosecuting Attorney Kacey Proctor has agreed to serve as special prosecutor, and his motion asked that Proctor be appointed.

Presiding Circuit Judge Robert Mayer signed an order Monday appointing Proctor “as special prosecutor for all matters related to the investigation and prosecution of the allegations …

“(Proctor) shall have all powers regularly possessed by the Stoddard County prosecuting attorney to act according to his discretion with regard to the investigation and prosecution of said matter.”

The April 2 election included contested school board races at Dexter, Puxico, Advance and Bell City, as well as a $15 million bond issue for the Dexter School District that passed with 77.4% of votes in favor.

Incumbent Herman Morse received 932 votes to win the second seat on the Dexter School Board, beating out challenger Ronald Glaus II, who had 929 votes.

For local elections, a recount can be requested if the margin is 1% or less, according to the Missouri Secretary of State’s website.

“I have not, and I don’t plan on a recount,” Glaus said. “… It is what it is. I have no intention of asking for one.”

Contested Board of Aldermen races also were held in Dexter, Puxico, Bernie, Advance, Essex, Duck Creek and Liberty during the April election.

Voters in the city of Bernie also approved a use tax by a margin of 7 votes.

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