Four men gave cash and cigarettes to homeless people in exchange for falsified signatures in Los Angeles’ Skid Row’s ballot petitions and voter registration forms.
Richard Howard, Louis Thomas Wise, Christopher Joseph Williams, and Nickey Demelvin admitted bribing the homeless people, Daily Mail reports.
In November 2018, the four men were arrested for participating in two voter fraud schemes.
Howard, 64, and Wise, 37, pleaded no contest to one felony count each of registration of a fictitious person and subscribing a fictitious name or the name of another to an initiative petition. This was announced on Wednesday, July 29, by the LA County District Attorney’s Office.
The other men, Williams, 41, and Huntley, 45, also pleaded no contest to one felony count of circulating an initiative or petition containing false, forged, or fictitious names.
The criminals were accused of soliciting hundreds of false and forged signatures in Skid Row, LA.
They were working alongside five other people.
Reportedly, the group set up tables near shelters and soup kitchens to attract the less fortunate. Offering them $1 and cigarettes in exchange for forged signatures at ballot petitions and voter registration forms. Prosecutors condemned their actions, calling them ‘an assault on our democracy’.
Image credits: Daily Mail
Both Williams and Huntley were sentenced to three years of formal probation. Wise got a sentence of 16 months in state prison and three years of formal probation. Howard received the hardest sentence of the group – three years in state prison and three more years of formal probation.
There was a fifth offender – a 62-year-old man named Norman Hall. He was sentenced to a year in jail.
The rest of the group, identified as Kirkland Kauzava Washington, Harold Bennett, Rose Makeda Sweeney, and Jakara Fati Mardis, are currently facing charges.
According to the District Attorney’s office, three of those defendants are scheduled to return to court for a pretrial hearing in September.
However, the homeless people involved in the fraud are not facing charges. Besides, it is still unclear which party they were told to vote for.
In response, LA County elections chief Dean Logan said he didn’t believe the voter fraud scheme would work. He assured that the petition signatures are manually compared to those on registration forms, so the scam wouldn’t succeed, even if the ones involved weren’t caught.