Former Twiggs sheriff, son being investigated for voter fraud

A former Twiggs County sheriff and his son, who ran unsuccessfully for that office in 2008, are facing allegations of voter fraud.

Former Sheriff Doyle Stone and his son Greg Stone have been investigated for allegedly interfering with absentee ballots from some of the county’s voters, according to state officials. Greg Stone lost the election to current Sheriff Darren Mitchum, who asked the state, the FBI and the GBI to investigate after the first allegation surfaced.

Greg Stone said Wednesday that all allegations against him and his family are false and that Mitchum orchestrated the probe because of political motivations.

“Anything against me and my family is completely not true,” Greg Stone said. “(Mitchum) is going to see fit to muddy the waters against us.”

Mitchum said Wednesday that his decision to turn over the case to state authorities wasn’t politically motivated. Mitchum said he asked other authorities to investigate because he was running for re-election against Greg Stone and couldn’t investigate the allegations.

“When the complaints started coming in, obviously I couldn’t investigate,” Mitchum said. “I contacted the Secretary of State’s Office and said, ‘Y’all need to come down here.’ ... They’re overseeing and investigating it. I think they’ve done a thorough investigation.”

Earlier this week, officials with the Georgia Secretary of State’s State Elections Board issued a continuance during a preliminary hearing in the case against the Stone family.

Greg Stone said the attorney representing him and his father asked for the continuance. Officials from the Secretary of State’s Office said the hearing has not yet been rescheduled.

GBI Special Agent Craig Rotter said his office investigated the complaint and decided there was nothing to pursue criminally against the Stones, so the investigation was turned over to the Secretary of State’s Office to pursue as an administrative case.

According to the investigation case notes of Chris Harvey of the state’s Inspector General Division, Mitchum initially heard from an elderly voter that Doyle Stone had taken possession of the elector’s absentee ballot and marked it for her.

The case notes say the voter was “very soft spoken and did not sound to be very firm in her responses except for certainty that Doyle Stone had taken the ballot. She said that she was not paid for her vote.”

The case notes say Mitchum was later contacted by a former deputy of his who was running for probate judge at the time, who mentioned that he knew of two other electors who had been visited by Doyle Stone and Greg Stone’s wife.

They allegedly assisted the electors with their absentee ballots and then took possession of the ballots, the case notes said.

Mitchum told Harvey that the former deputy who contacted him was unaware of the other investigation.

Mitchum and Greg Stone have a history of conflict. During the 2004 sheriff’s race to succeed Doyle Stone -- who served as sheriff for 16 years -- both candidates accused the other of dirty campaigning. After Mitchum defeated Greg Stone in a runoff during the Democratic primary, Stone filed a lawsuit against Mitchum and Twiggs County Elections Superintendent Marette Fair, claiming voting irregularities.

Greg Stone later dropped the lawsuit, saying it was too expensive to continue.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.