Skip to comments.East St. Louis federal vote fraud trial begins
Posted on 06/01/2005 5:36:44 PM PDT by Land_of_Lincoln_John
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) Jurors in a federal vote fraud case will decide in the coming weeks whether East St. Louis Democratic Committee leaders attempted to buy votes in the November elections, or if committee members were set up, as a defense attorney alleges.
Committee Chairman Charles Powell Jr. and others are accused of trying to buy the election using cash, liquor and cigarettes.
But Powell's lawyer Bruce Cook said in opening statements Tuesday that ``the FBI engaged in picking sides during an election'' by arresting his client two weeks before he was up for re-election to the City Council. Powell lost and the City Council majority vote shifted to favor Mayor Carl Officer.
Powell is charged with heading a conspiracy to buy votes in the November election.
Kelvin Ellis, the city's former director of regulatory affairs, Democratic precinct committee members Sheila Thomas and Jesse Lewis and City Hall worker Yvette Johnson are also charged with conspiracy to commit vote fraud.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Carr said money flowed from the Belleville-based St. Clair County Democrats to their counterparts in East St. Louis in an effort to elect Belleville Mayor Mark Kern as St. Clair County Board chairman.
State records showed that about $67,000 was transferred from the county Democrats to the committeemen three days before the Nov. 2 election. Party leaders said it was for legitimate expenses, including providing rides to the polls for people without cars, and giving meals throughout the year to encourage people to vote.
Carr said East St. Louis residents thought Kern ``was a racist.'' But Kern, a Democrat, beat Republican Steve Reeb thanks to a surge of votes from East St. Louis.
Jurors were expected to hear about six hours of recordings made shortly before the election by informers of Powell and others allegedly talking about how to buy votes. But Ellis' attorney, John O'Gara, said Tuesday that ``the only two people who keep talking about paying voters'' on the tapes are the informants.
In March, committeemen Leroy Scott Jr., Lillie Nichols, Terrance Stith, and his wife, precinct worker, Sandra Stith, each pleaded guilty to a count of vote buying.
The four admitted in their pleas that they paid voters between $5 and $10 to favorably cast ballots during the Nov. 2 election. They also agreed to testify in future cases.
The trial is expected to last two to four weeks.
There is absolutely, positively no chance whatsoever that our judicial system will find anyone involved in this guilty regardless of the evidence presented. It just ain't going to happen. If I am wrong I will happily eat crow but this just isn't going to result in a single Democrat being found guilty.
The US attorney down there is as tough as nails. Just like the US atty. here in the Chicago area, Patrick Fitzgerald. Over the objections of both Republicans and Democrats, former Senator Peter (no relation to Patrick) Fitzgerald recommmened no-nonsense Fed prosecutors in Illinois. Ex-Senator Fitzgerald was a Republican.
I hope you are right but I'll believe it when I see it.
If you get a chance, ping me when this is done.
Yeah, I know, just call me Mr. Obvious...
Oh, as bad as Illinois is, at least, unlike Wisconsin, we don't have election day voter regsistration.
Ping. You posted the indictments in March.
This is a democrat mess in a heavily democrat area. I think the big players in this will walk.
Should have been.
It's a democrat cess pool.
Where's Slick Olberman on this one?
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