Mary Francis Barnes, who finished only one vote behind the top vote-getter in the November 4 Dermott mayoral election, is a twice-convicted felon, according to Pierce County, Washington Superior Court records.
Barnes, 56, turned herself into Dermott police on Friday after authorities learned that, contrary to her political practice pledge, she allegedly is a convicted felon.
On July 30, when filing as a candidate for Dermott mayor, Barnes signed a political practices pledge falsely stating that she had never been convicted of a felony, according to charging information filed by 10th Judicial District Prosecutor Thomas Deen.
Falsification of a political practices pledge is a Class D felony punishable by a maximum 12-year prison sentence and $10,000 fine.
Barnes, formerly known as Mary Francis Johnson, was convicted in 1990 of possession of a controlled substance (cocaine) with the intent to deliver and received a 21-month prison sentence. She was arrested again in October 2006 for unlawful possession of a firearm. She pleaded guilty to that charge in July 2007, according to Pierce County, Washington Superior Court documents.
Southeast Arkansas law enforcement authorities received information following the November 4 General Election that Barnes may be a convicted felon. After obtaining a copy of Barnes’ criminal history, court records, and a copy of her political practices pledge, Lt. Jason Akers, supervising agent of the 10th Judicial District Drug Task Force, and Special Agent Kyle Berryman met with Barnes at her home where she allegedly admitted that she had been convicted of felony offenses, served time in prison, and made efforts to get her record expunged, according to Akers’ case notes.
Circuit Judge Sam Pope signed a warrant for Barnes’ arrest on November 12. She turned herself in to Dermott police on November 14 and was subsequently released on her own recognizance.
Meanwhile, ballots had already been prepared for a November 25 runoff election between Barnes and Clinton ‘Hamp’ Hampton. Hampton had received 241 votes in the November 4 election while Barnes received 240 votes. The third place finisher, Floyd E. Gray, received 219 votes and the fourth-place finisher, Lucan Hargraves, Sr., received 149 votes. All four candidates filed as independents.
The criminal matter, alleged falsification of political practices pledge, is separate from the election issue, which is a civil matter. The Chicot County Circuit Court would determine whether Barnes is eligible to take office if she were to win the runoff. Convicted felons, unless their record is expunged, are not eligible to hold office.