Political scandals in Logan County, West Virginia

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Logan County, West Virginia has a long and colorful history of political scandal and corruption.

History during previous centuries[edit]

Logan County, where some of the combatants in the Hatfield-McCoy feud were tried and hanged, has been notorious for over a century for political machines that control virtually all aspects of elected office. Allies of candidate John F. Kennedy once famously asked local political boss Raymond Chafin how much money he wanted so that Kennedy could carry Southern West Virginia in the 1960 Presidential Election, and Chafin replied "thirty five," meaning $3500. Kennedy's men returned with a suitcase full of $35,000, making it one of the more famous instances of miscommunication in the greasing of political palms in Logan history.[1]

2004 sting[edit]

During the 2004 election season in the town of Logan, West Virginia, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in a controversial move, had four-term mayor Thomas Esposito run for the West Virginia House of Delegates in order to ferret out corruption in Logan County politics. Officials in neighboring Lincoln County, West Virginia were also charged

Esposito was a prominent criminal defense attorney and four-term Mayor of Logan who was directed to buy votes by the FBI and implicate as many local politicians as possible in a Federal probe directed by Assistant U.S. Attorney R. Booth Goodwin II. In the end, Esposito was directed to pull out of the race before the general election and pleaded guilty to a single charge of misprision of a felony, putatively for bribing Logan County, West Virginia magistrate, Danny Wells, who himself received a nearly eight-year Federal sentence for his own bribery and extortion charges. Esposito himself was merely disbarred and served two years of probation. He is considered to have bribed Wells by paying off his $6500 bar tab.[2]

Others charged with crimes as a result of the sting[edit]

Other public figures were charged with federal crimes and forced to resign. The following men were implicated in the sting:

  • Logan County Clerk Glen Dale "Houn' Dog" Adkins admitted he sold his vote for $500 in 1996.
  • Perry French Harvey, Jr., former UMWA official pleaded guilty to conspiring to bribe voters.
  • Ernie Ray Mangus was granted immunity against the charge of receiving $1,000 to buy votes in exchange for his cooperation.
  • "Big" John Mendez, Sheriff of Logan County, was compelled to resign and is never allowed to run for public office again.
  • Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Greg Stowers entered a guilty plea to a federal vote-buying charge in a probe directed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen George.
  • Logan police chief Alvin “Chipper” Porter Jr. and Logan VFW president Ernest Stapleton both entered related guilty pleas.

Voter disenfranchisement controversy[edit]

Although Esposito was a sham candidate controlled by the Federal Government, he received 2,175 votes in his faked bid to be elected to the 19th District of West Virginia's House of Delegates. Greg Campbell, Perry Harvey's attorney, argued unsuccessfully before District Judge David A. Faber that Esposito's faked campaign interfered with an election and disenfranchised everyone voting for him. Judge Faber took thirty minutes to decide that the votes were irrelevant.


  1. ^ Joe Savage (December 1994). "Just Good Politics: The Life of Raymond Chafin, Appalachian Boss. - book reviews". BNET. CBS Interactive. Retrieved December 22, 2010.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-05-27. Retrieved 2010-12-08.

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