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Reports filed under seal in vote-buying case

PIKEVILLE – The presentence investigation reports for the three convicted in August on vote-buying charges are all under seal in federal court. 

In August, Magoffin County Magistrate District #1 Gary “Rooster” Risner, Tami Jo Risner and Larry Shepherd were found guilty by a federal jury of conspiring to commit vote-buying in the 2014 primary and general elections.

Since their sentencing hearings held in December, sealed presentence investigation reports have been filed for each of the defendants. 

Kyle Edelen, the public affairs officer for the Eastern District of Kentucky U.S. Attorney’s Office, told the Independent that presentence reports are always sealed.

“Among other things, these reports contain detailed personal information about defendants’ personal life history that often is unrelated to the case matter,” Edelen said.

Jason Nemes, the attorney for Shepherd, reiterated the same reason, stating, “The presentence reports are sealed because they contain very personal information about health, family, and personal finances that are unrelated to the charges. They are regularly sealed.”

Jarrod Beck, who has recently been appointed to represent Tami Jo Risner during the appellant process, also said presentence investigation reports are always filed under seal in federal court, stating that since the reports are comprehensive and include discussion about an individual’s family background, medical history, etc., “For that reason, only the courts, the attorneys, and the defendants themselves have access.”

On December 1, Gary “Rooster” Risner was sentenced to 33 months in prison, three years supervised release, a special assessment fee of $800, and must perform 550 hours of community service. On December 6, his attorney, Michael Curtis, filed a notice of appeal regarding the judgment. 

Tami Jo Risner was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison, three years supervised release, and an assessment fee of $300. Her attorney, Willis Coffey, filed a notice of appeal regarding the judgment on December 5. He has also withdrawn as Risner’s counsel and the court will appoint new counsel to represent her during the appellant proceedings.

Larry Shepherd was sentenced to 30 months in prison, three years of supervised release, an assessment fee of $100 and a $20,000 fine. On December 13, his attorney, Jason Nemes, filed a notice of appeal regarding the judgment, as well. 

In the judgments, the court recommended that both Gary “Rooster” Risner and Shepherd be designated to the Federal Correctional Institution Ashland or the facility closest to their residences for which they qualify, and are to surrender themselves for service of sentence at the institution before 2 p.m. on January 30, 2017. Due to a bond violation prior to sentencing, Tami Jo Risner was remanded to custody of the United States Marshal and is currently being held at the Carter County Detention Center. 

The Independent will release information regarding the appeals in this case as soon as possible on, as well as on Facebook (@SInewspaper) and Twitter (@SalyersvilleInd). 




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