Judge Carlton Vines, state court judge in Chattooga County, was indicted on Friday afternoon by the Chattooga County Grand Jury.  Vines is being charged with Unlawful Possession of Ballots, Conspiracy to Commit Election Fraud and False Swearing. 

Vines was indicted after a lengthy investigation by officials with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s office and the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council have declined to comment about the investigation, which began in late 2006 following the November general election. 

In the general election of 2006, absentee ballots decided a close race for State Court judge in that election. Vines beat incumbent Sam Finster by 125 votes. Finster won the ballot box 2,119 votes to 1,943, but lost the absentee vote 336 to 637.  According to The Rome News Tribune, Chattooga County Commissioner Mike Dawson said in a May 2008 interview that the county has continued paying Vines his salary of $1,807.36 every two weeks.  Currently, Juvenile Court Judge Jerry Westbrook is serving in Vines’ place.

The Grand Jury Deliberated at length yesterday with the True Bill decision not coming until after 5 PM.  after a long presentation by prosecutor Joseph Buford.