McAliley: Berry to be prosecuted

Published 10:22 pm Thursday, July 8, 2010

Pike County District Attorney Gary McAliley said further legal action will be taken against former commissioner Karen Berry “one way or another.”

“We had some people on the last grand jury very concerned about this matter, and we had to give them assurance the case would be presented, and we’ll keep our word one way or another,” McAliley said. “If the (Attorney General’s Office) doesn’t present it, we will.”

Berry was removed from office in October 2009 when a Pike County Circuit Court ruling deemed she won the November 2008 illegally. The case was brought by her opponent now commissioner Oren Fannin who had lost by just six votes. Judge Joel Holley, who ruled in the case, declared that 10 votes cast for Berry were done so illegally.

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Also during the course of the trial, allegations of potential voter fraud and perjury were brought forth. At one point Holley declared in court: “Someone here today has committed perjury.”

While McAliley said the DA’s office will take action if necessary, he said he requested Attorney General Troy King’s office take the case in about three months ago.

“We just felt like that would be best for somebody out of the circuit to handle it,” McAliley said.

Attorney General’s Office spokeswoman Joy Patterson said the office is unable to comment on cases the AG may or may not be investigating.

McAliley said he spoke with a “young man” from the AG’s office about two months ago, just prior to the last Pike County Grand Jury in May. McAliley said that man said the AG’s office would take the case. However, McAliley said the case was not presented in May to the Grand Jury.

McAliley said he isn’t allowed to disclose what cases are going before a grand jury.

The district attorney did say there had been discussion over a specially-called grand jury for some cases this summer, but those are set by the judges 30 days in advance.

As of Wednesday, there had been no date set for a special grand jury. The next grand jury is set for Oct. 26.

Judge Jeff Kelley, who would make the schedule, said no one from the AG’s office has discussed anything about this case with him.

“I have not talked to anyone from the attorney general’s office in regards to (calling a special grand jury,)” Kelley said. “I haven’t talked with anyone from that office about this case at all.”

Kelley said while he couldn’t discuss cases before a grand jury trial, there would still be time to add a case to the trial docket before the October grand jury.

Berry could not be reached for comment.