Nine people have been charged with felonies by the Los Angeles County prosecutors alleging they offered money and cigarettes to homeless people on LA’s Skid Row in exchange for false and forged signatures on ballot petitions and voter registration forms.
Jackie Lacey from the office of District Attorney said in a statement on Tuesday the alleged offenses occurred during the 2016 and 2018 election cycles.
The defendants were arraigned on Tuesday in the Superior Court.
The charges include circulating a petition with false names, use of false names on a petition, and voter fraud by registering fictitious or non-existent persons.
Prosecutors say there were hundreds of solicitations for false or forged signatures and homeless people were offered a dollar or cigarettes for participation.
Kirkland Kauzava Washington, 38, Richard Howard, 62, Rose Makeda Sweeney, 42, Christopher Joseph Williams, 59, and Norman Hall, 61, were arraigned Tuesday where they pleaded not guilty to charges of voter fraud, circulating a petition with false names, use of false names on a petition and registering a fictitious person.
Also charged in the alleged voter fraud scheme are Harold Bennett, 53, Louis Thomas Wise, 36, Jakara Fati Mardis, 35, and Nickey Demelvin Huntley, 44. The status of their arraignment hearings was not immediately available.
A spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office said she was “unable to discuss those specifics” regarding which ballot petitions the alleged scheme involved.
Washington, Bennett and Wise are each charged with eight counts and could face up to six years and four months in state prison if convicted as charged, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
The other five defendants are charged with four counts each and would face a maximum of four years and eight months behind bars if convicted.
The case still remains under investigation by the LA Police Department and the FBI’s Los Angeles field office.
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