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Area residents plead guilty
Charges stem from primary election petitions

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Martinsville man and a Bassett woman have pleaded guilty to charges of perjury and false statement on a required form stemming from petitions obtained for Newt Gingrich’s campaign for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 2012, according to court records and an Augusta County assistant commonwealth’s attorney.

Adam Dustin Ward of Martinsville pleaded guilty Tuesday in Augusta County Circuit Court to 18 counts of false statement on required form and 18 counts of perjury: falsely swear an oath, according to court records.

Ward had been indicted Jan. 28 by an Augusta County grand jury on 21 counts of each charge, records state. The records list the date of the alleged offense as Dec. 12, 2011.

Ward was arrested Feb. 5 on the charges.

Jennifer Derrebery of Bassett also was indicted by an Augusta County grand jury Jan. 28 on one count each of false statement on required form and perjury: falsely swear an oath in connection with an incident Dec. 21, 2011, court records show.

Derrebery was arrested Feb. 4, records show.

She pleaded guilty to each count April 5 in Augusta County Circuit Court and was sentenced to 10 years in jail on each offense, to run concurrently, court records state. Both sentences were suspended, according to court records, and Derrebery was placed on five years’ probation and ordered to pay $1,266 in court costs, records show.

Rupen R. Shah, assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Augusta County, said Ward and Derrebery were among “several individuals” hired by Stillwater LLC, an election contractor enlisted by the Gingrich campaign, “to obtain signatures in Virginia to be on primary ballots.”

Shah said Ward and Derrebery turned in signed petition forms in Augusta County, but Virginia Board of Elections officials “couldn’t verify names or addresses” on “several dozen” of them. Because the forms were brought to Augusta County to be notarized, Ward and Derrebery were charged there, Shah said.

The charges stemmed from the fact that Ward allegedly had not collected the signatures himself, Shah said. The forms appeared to have been filled out “in the same handwriting or that of two or three people,” he added.

Gingrich signed a document stating his campaign had obtained 11,050 signatures, beyond the 10,000 required to be on a primary ballot in Virginia, Shah said. However, when the confirmed petitions were counted, “it was more like 7,500,” he said.

Shah declined to elaborate on the more than 3,500 petitions that were discarded, saying that Virginia State Police still are investigating and more arrests are possible.

Ward is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 19.


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