HARPERS FERRY – Tess Bishop, a Utah resident and the younger daughter of Harpers Ferry Mayor Wayne Bishop, agreed to a guilty plea of illegally voting Monday in Jefferson County Circuit Court for casting a ballot in the town’s June 11 election.
Tess Bishop, 29, works and lives in Utah and had registered to vote in Salt Lake City, Utah, three months before the Harpers Ferry election. She has entered a guilty plea for a misdemeanor charge that carries a statutory penalty of up to a year in jail, a $1,000 fine or both.
Under a plea agreement with Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Harvey, Tess Bishop would serve 24 hours of community service and pay no fine if she is formally convicted. She would be eligible to serve her community service in Utah.
Who Tess Bishop might have voted for is not stated in her plea agreement.
Election officials have no way to determine who cast ballots in elections after they are cast.
Harvey said the terms of Bishop’s plea agreement will be explained during an upcoming sentencing hearing.
A hearing to decide whether to formally accept her guilty plea has not yet been scheduled.
No judge had been assigned to the case as of Tuesday.
Allegations that Tess Bishop lived in Utah when she voted in the town’s election came to light amid a closely contested council election that remains unresolved. Other allegations were made in court documents involved with an appeal of the town’s election that four other people who are no longer residents of the town also cast ballots in the election.
Wayne Bishop was elected to a second term for mayor by 15 votes.
The West Virginia Supreme Court is considering the appeal of a Jefferson County Circuit Court order directing that four contested ballots be counted in the final results of the election.
Six candidates could either win or retain a council seat depending on what votes were cast on those ballots.
Town residents could vote for up to five of nine council candidates on the ballot. (One candidate had withdrawn her council candidacy after ballots were printed.)
The outcome of the council election is considered pivotal to whether the $140 million Hill Top House Hotel redevelopment project in Harpers Ferry moves forward or is abandoned. The hotel project has been delayed significantly by town debate and inaction since 2009.
Tess Bishop’s attorney, Barry Beck of Martinsburg, could not be immediately reached on Tuesday.