Luther Town Trustee Ron Henry took a plea deal on his voter fraud charge before his trial was to begin Monday. He confirmed to The Luther Register that he will resign immediately from the Town Board of Trustees.
It appears in the deal, Mr. Henry gave an Alford Plea of Guilty (a guilty plea by a defendant who claims his innocence) on one count of “conspiracy to commit a felony; false notarization.” It all stems from his election victory in 2015 when someone called authorities claiming alleged voter fraud involving absentee ballots.
An 18-month investigation led to charges in August 2016 against Mr. Henry and his wife. They were accused of falsifying absentee ballots that were notarized by the Henry’s former neighbor and Luther’s former Mayor Cecilia Taft. Taft was the state’s witness at a preliminary hearing last June. Mr. Henry has insisted his innocence throughout explaining that he ran an election campaign like seasoned candidates do, by asking voters to cast a ballot for him at their registered place of voting. Ron Henry previously served as a Luther School Board member – and has run campaigns for local office, including Oklahoma County Commission in 2014. He has also been active as the local president of the NAACP.
Henry said he will live with the decision to take the plea deal although he maintains his innocence. The plea arrangement gives him a deferred sentence on the one felony conviction until February 2023. He paid almost $800 in court fees on Friday, in addition to fees to his attorney Gary Wood. the charges against Mrs, Henry were dropped, according to her husband.
“I wanted nothing for myself. I’ve always wanted what’s best for the Town,” he said.
Luther Mayor Jenni White said it was sad to have the phone conversation with Mr. Henry Sunday afternoon when he told her he would resign immediately. “I’ve always believed he had the right intentions,” said White.
“He was always determined to do what was right for the Town; that’s why he resigned,” said White. She said the Board will formally consider Henry’s resignation at the March regular Town Meeting. She said it’s likely the board will ask for interest, and appoint a new member to serve the remainder of Henry’s term that expires in 2019 when the next regularly scheduled Town election will be held.
Trustee Trandy Langston served with Henry since last May. She said she wishes him luck in his future endeavors. “It is unfortunate circumstances for which we’ve found ourselves to be in this situation, however Mr. Henry has always done what he felt was best for the Town of Luther. I’d like to thank him for the time he’s served our town.”
“I ran to stop the corruption in this Town. It’s hard to resign but the town is going in a better direction,” he said pointing out there is new town leadership on the board, fire and police departments.
“I won. We stopped the corruption problem,” said Henry.