Four men pleaded no contest to charges of voter fraud for paying homeless people in Los Angeles’s Skid Row with cash and cigarettes in exchange for forged signatures on ballot petitions and voter registration forms.
Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said that Richard Howard, 64, and Louis Thomas Wise, 37, pleaded no contest last week to one felony count each of registration of a fictitious person and subscribing a fictitious name to an initiative petition.
Meanwhile, Christopher Joseph Williams, 41, and Nickey Demelvin, 45, each pleaded no contest to one felony count of circulating an initiative or petition containing false, forged or fictitious names.
Howard was given a suspended sentence of three years in state prison and three years of probation, while Wise was given a suspended sentence of 16 months in state prison and three years of formal probation.
This means that they would serve jail time after completing their probation period, and may be omitted if the defendants do no commit additional crimes.
Williams and Huntley were both sentenced with three years’ formal probation each.
The voter scheme fraud was used in the 2016 and 2018 election cycles, involving nine people in total.
One of their co-defendants, Norman Hall, pleaded guilty in February and was sentenced to one year in jail, three years of probation and 100 hours of community service.
The group allegedly gave homeless people cigarettes and $1 each in exchange of their signatures, amassing hundreds of false signatures that was used to help initiatives qualify in the 2016 and 2018 election cycles.
“They paid individuals to sign the names,” said LAPD Officer Deon Joseph. “That’s an assault on our democracy.”
One of the remaining defendants, Jakara Fati Mardis, 37, remains at large, while the other three are expected to appear in court for a pretrial hearing on September 1.