Waverly mayor free on bond, awaits court date on felony election fraud charges

By Michael Campbell, News Editor

WAVERLY – Waverly mayor Walter Mason will remain free ahead of his first scheduled court appearance on felony election fraud charges next month.

According to court documents, the 69-year-old longtime Waverly resident was released on a $2,500 secured bond following his arrest by a Virginia State trooper on March 15, just a day after he was indicted by a Sussex County grand jury on twelve felony counts related to the May 2016 town elections.

While few details in regards to the case against Mason were available in the filings on hand at the Sussex County Circuit Court offices, documents did show the terms of Mason’s bond requires that he stay in the commonwealth until his case and any appeals are completed and maintain good behavior while out on bond.

In an interview last week, Mason continued to decline requests for comment on the charges levied against him by the commonwealth, led by special prosecutor and Botetourt County Commonwealth’s Attorney Joel Branscom.

According to Mason, he and his attorney, who has not been identified, will be holding a press conference for media and the public in the future where he is expected to address the matter, but, as of this report, no timetable for that press conference has been revealed and, when asked, Mason said media would be informed of the time and date of the press conference at a later date, refusing to take any questions related to the charges.

In court documents obtained by The Sussex-Surry Dispatch, Mason was indicted on 12 counts of felony election fraud by the grand jury last Tuesday in Sussex County Circuit Court, with the jury issuing a true bill on all charges.

The indictments allege on four different occasions between February and April of 2016, Mason “unlawfully and feloniously, willfully make a false statement or entry on an absentee ballot application,” a violation of Virginia Code Section 24.2-1016.

In addition, court documents further allege that Mason “unlawfully and feloniously aid or abet or attempt to aid or abet” a total of seven different people “in a violation of absentee voting procedures,” violating regulations in Chapter 7, Title 24.2 of the Code of Virginia, which details who is qualified to vote via an absentee ballot.

In terms of the potential penalties for the charges facing Mason, providing false statements on an absentee ballot application is considered a Class 4 felony, which carries a term behind bars of between two and ten years and a fine of up to $100,000 while violating absentee voting procedures are deemed a Class 5 felony, with prison time of between one and ten years, “or in the discretion of the jury or the court trying the case without a jury, confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both.”

Mason remains active as mayor with the town’s attorney Henry Thompson telling media outlets in the days following the revelation of the charges against Mason that the town will wait and see how the court proceedings play out under the mindset of innocence until proven guilty.

The mayor and his legal counsel are expected to make their first appearance in court on April 12.

Copyright 2017 by Womack Publishing
Image Source: Sussex County Sheriff’s Office

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