By Emily Le Coz
JACKSON Miss. (Reuters) - One of four men authorities say conspired to photograph Mississippi U.S. Senator Thad Cochran’s bedridden wife for political purposes pleaded guilty to the charge on Wednesday.
John Mary entered his plea to one count of felony conspiracy before Madison County Circuit Judge William Chapman, who sentenced him to five years of supervised probation with the condition he continues to cooperate with the ongoing investigation into the case.
“Mary has cooperated with law enforcement from the time he was initially approached,” said Michael Guest, the district attorney prosecuting the case. “Following his plea, we were able to sit with him and explore some of those matters further.”
Mary, a former conservative radio host, was arrested in May after authorities said he helped political blogger Clayton Kelly sneak into the Jackson-area nursing home where Rose Cochran has lived for a decade due to Alzheimer's disease and photograph her on Easter day.
Kelly later posted the images in an online video attacking Senator Cochran, who was in a primary battle with Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel. The video was removed shortly afterward.
McDaniel lost to Cochran in the primary runoff but is challenging the results. He has denied any involvement in the scheme.
Mary "never wanted for this to have any effect on Rose Cochran and her family, and he feels bad for his part in it," said his attorney, Doug Lee.
In addition to Kelly and Mary, authorities arrested school teacher Richard Sager and attorney Mark Mayfield for their roles in the incident. Kelly and Sager deny any wrongdoing. Their cases have yet to go before a grand jury.
Mayfield committed suicide in June.
(Editing by Jim Loney)