Pendleton County mail carrier charged with attempted election fraud

ELKINS, WEST VIRGINIA – Thomas Cooper, a mail carrier in Pendleton County, was charged today in a criminal complaint with attempted election fraud, U.S. Attorney Bill Powell announced.

Cooper, age 47, of Dry Fork, West Virginia, is charged with “Attempt to Defraud the Residents of West Virginia of a Fair Election.” According to the affidavit filed with the complaint, 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.

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.

Cooper was responsible for the mail delivery of the three towns from which the tampered requests were mailed: Onego, Riverton, and Franklin, West Virginia. According to the affidavit, Cooper admitted to altering some of the requests, saying it was a joke.

The complaint was filed after an investigation by the West Virginia Election Fraud Task Force, led by Assistant United States Attorneys from both the Northern and Southern Districts of West Virginia, Special Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and investigators from the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen D. Warner is prosecuting 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.

A criminal complaint is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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