Opponent not surprised at indictment

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 6, 1999

JONESVILLE, La. – Mayor Billy Edwards’ 1998 election opponent said he wasn’t surprised to see election fraud charges levied against the mayor and eight others Tuesday.

&uot;I&160;knew it would happen sooner or later,&uot; said Roosevelt Savage. &uot;I think it was good the (arrests) happened, because I believe in enforcing the law.&uot;

On Tuesday, FBI agents and state police arrested Edwards, his wife Mary, Police Chief Clyde Walker and five others who assisted in Edwards’ campaign on election fraud charges. All were released on $5,000 bonds Tuesday. No trial date has been set.

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A ninth Jonesville resident, Mona &uot;Flapper&uot;&160;Briggs, 36, turned herself in Wednesday morning at the federal courthouse in Alexandria. She was released on $5,000 bond.

The other defendants were Linda Curry, Garnet Thompson, Lola Bowie, Mary Walker and Henry &uot;Doonie&uot;&160;Brown. All defendants did not return calls or could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

On Sept. 22, a grand jury handed down indictments against the nine on a total of 27 charges, including conspiracy, fraudulent voting, vote buying, false information and witness tampering. Still, all are innocent until proven guilty.

Savage filed suit against Edwards and a handful of other officials in Seventh Judicial District Court last November, charging that voter fraud had caused Savage to lose the election by 74 votes.

Judge Kathy Johnson found in favor of Savage but state appeals and supreme courts overturned that ruling. Even if the nine are found guilty, it will not change the results of the election, said U.S. Attorney Mike Skinner.

Jonesville Councilman Terry Russ said he was surprised to hear of the arrests. &uot;We had heard rumors for a while that an arrest was going to happen, but nothing concrete,&uot; he said.

Still, Russ said he does not believe the arrests will disrupt local government. &uot;I believe the mayor realizes that he needs to work with the council, because we’re all there for the same purpose – to work for the people of Jonesville,&uot;&160;Russ said.