4 men in Los Angeles have pleaded no contest to a voter fraud scheme in which they offered homeless people money and cigarettes in exchange for their fraudulent signatures on ballot petitions and voter registration forms, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said Thursday.
Richard Howard, Louis Thomas Wise, Christopher Joseph Williams, and Nickey Demelvin Huntley were each charged with a felony, the DA’s office said in the news release. Howard was sentenced to 3 years in prison, Wise was sentenced to 16 months in prison, and Williams and Huntley were both given 3 years’ probation. (RELATED: NJ City Officials Charged After 1 In 5 Mail-In Ballots Found To Be Fraudulent In Election)
In a case announced by @LADAOffice & investigated by @FBILosAngeles @LAPDHQ, 4 men have admitted to their role in a scheme where money & cigarettes were offered to the homeless in exchange for false/forged signatures on ballot petitions & voter reg forms.https://t.co/juSwWyUuin
— FBI Los Angeles (@FBILosAngeles) July 30, 2020
5 men faced charges for a similar scheme in February, according to the DA’s office.
One of the defendants charged in connection with the crime, 63-year-old Norman Hall, was sentenced to 1 year in county jail and 3 years of probation after pleading guilty to “circulating a petition with false, forged or fictitious names.” 3 of the other defendants are awaiting a pretrial hearing, which is scheduled for September 1. The last defendant, Jakara Fati Mardis, hasn’t been apprehended, according to the news release.
The DA’s office said that the indictment indicates that the voter fraud schemes also occurred during the 2016 and 2018 elections.
Concerns have been raised about potential voter fraud in the 2020 election due to the mail-in ballot system, which will be relied on more heavily as polling centers close due to coronavirus. A recent poll from the RNC found that 57% of voters were concerned about voter fraud related to mail-in ballots. (RELATED: Mail-In Voting For November Election Over Coronavirus Opens Door For Fraud, Experts Say)
Last month, officials in New Jersey faced charges after 1 in 5 mail-in ballots from a special election in May were found to be fraudulent.
President Donald Trump suggested that Congress should delay the 2020 election due to concerns of voter fraud, an idea that was rejected by Republican leaders Thursday.