A Mississippi charged in connection with the photographing of the wife of Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) cut a non-adjudication plea deal with prosecutors on Wednesday, meaning that he’ll face no jail time and get five years probation after which time his record will be expunged in exchange for pleading guilty to a lesser crime than with which he was charged.
John Mary, one of the four men charged in the incident, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge “to post a message to harm someone,” his attorney Doug Lee told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.
The District Attorney at the center of the matter, Michael Guest, first told the press about the matter right after Mary cut the deal on Wednesday morning.
Lee, Mary’s attorney, said that Mary has cooperated with police since the beginning of the matter.
“He cooperated with police from the very moment they contacted him, and he will continue to cooperate with them until the end of this entire matter,” Lee told the local paper. “He was adamant that he wanted to take responsibility for his part in all of this, and he very thoroughly regrets any pain he has caused the Cochran family.”
Mary, local teacher Ric Sager and attorney Mark Mayfield were each arrested and charged with conspiring to help blogger Clayton Kelly take a photograph of Cochran’s wife Rose in the nursing home in which she resides in Madison, Mississippi. Mary, Sager and Mayfield were arrested on May 22, and Kelly was arrested on May 15. Mayfield committed suicide after the June 24 primary runoff election in the state, and Guest, the District Attorney, has not brought any of them up for charges in front of the Grand Jury despite having two opportunities to do so now as the Grand Jury meets monthly.
The episode proved to be a major campaign scandal for state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who is currently challenging the election results from the June 24 runoff. While authorities have confirmed that neither McDaniel nor his campaign was involved in the procuring of the photograph of Rose Cochran–and the campaign has furnished evidence that proves it actually called on the blogger Kelly to take down the video after he posted it online, which is the first they became aware of it–McDaniel’s and his campaign’s original responses to the matter gave off an uneasy appearance.
Cochran’s team held the video without notifying authorities for at least three weeks, prompting criticism that the incumbent senator exploited his wife’s attack for political gain.