LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Prosecutors say four men have admitted their role in a scheme where money and cigarettes were offered to homeless people on Skid Row in exchange for false and forged signatures on ballot petitions and voter registration forms.
Richard Howard, 64, and Louis Thomas Wise, 38 pleaded no contest Friday to one felony count each of subscribing a fictitious name, or the name of another to an initiative petition and registration of a fictitious person, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced Friday.
Two other men, 41-year-old Christopher Joseph Williams and Nickey Demelvin Huntley, 45, each pleaded no contest to one felony count of circulating an initiative or petition containing false, forged or fictitious names.
Howard was immediately sentenced to a suspended sentence of three years in state prison and three years of formal probation.
Wise was sentenced to a suspended sentence of 16 months in state prison and three years of formal probation.
Williams and Huntley were each sentenced to three years of formal probation.
Another defendant, Norman Hall, 63, pleaded guilty to one felony count of circulating a petition with false, forged or fictitious names. He was immediately sentenced to one year in county jail, placed on formal probation for three years and ordered to complete 100 hours of community service.
The four remaining defendants face various charges including use of false names on a petition and voter fraud.
The men were charged with soliciting hundreds of false and/or forged signatures on state ballot petitions and voter registration forms by offering homeless people $1 and/or cigarettes for their participation.
The scheme took place during the 2016 presidential and the 2018 midterm elections, prosecutors say. It’s unclear which specific ballot measures were involved or whether the false signatures were discovered before being verified.
Three of the defendants are scheduled to return to court for a pretrial hearing on Sept. 1.