A veteran Pike County educator and former county commissioner faces two felony charges in connection to a voter fraud case.
Pike County District Attorney Gary McAliley said Karen Tipton Berry, 59, of Glenwood, turned herself in to investigators with the district attorney’s office on Tuesday. Court records show investigators with the Pike County District Attorney’s Office charged her with felony absentee ballot fraud and felony first-degree perjury.
According to the ballot fraud warrant for her arrest, she was charged with either mailing or carrying an absentee ballot, knowing that it was an illegal ballot, to the courthouse on Oct. 4, 2008.
McAliley said there were multiple absentee ballots involved in the felony fraud charge filed against her.
Court records show she was charged with falsely testifying to submitting absentee ballots obtained during the general election of 2008. Berry was charged with making the false statement during a 2009 civil trial (Fannin vs Berry) that contested the results of the general election.
“We had planned on showing that she and/or others had taken the stand and testified under oath falsely to material facts about the absentee ballots,” McAliley said.
McAliley said Berry was running for re-election on the Pike County Commission and formerly served as county commission chairman.
Berry was initially declared the winner of the District 6 Pike County Commission race by six votes. Records show Oren Fannin, who ran against Berry, contested the election results, which resulted in a trial in Pike County Circuit Court.
Records show special appointed Circuit Judge Joel Holley vacated Berry of her position on the commission after he declared 10 absentee ballots cast for her in the race were illegal, including one cast by her son. Several of the absentee ballots were deemed illegal because the voter did not live in the district, and some did not have a valid signature.
McAliley said he expected the criminal charges filed against Berry to be disposed of next week.
“This is my 36th year as a judge or DA, and I’ve only had two or three voter fraud type cases,” McAliley said. “It’s fairly uncommon that there’s enough evidence to prosecute.”
Berry’s arrest report listed her as an employee with the Pike County Board of Education.
But Pike County Board of Education Superintendent Mark Bazzell said the board accepted Berry’s resignation for retirement last week. Bazzell said Berry has worked for the Pike County Board of Education for 36 years, and held a variety of positions from teacher, to special education coordinator to most recently administrative assistant.