Eight ACORN Workers Indicted [Updated]

The following press release is from the St. Louis City Election Board in response to today’s indictment of eight former ACORN workers on charges of voter registration fraud:

Earlier today, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of the State of Missouri, Catherine L. Hanaway, announced that eight former employees of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, were indicted in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri on federal election violations. The indictments come approximately thirteen months after the City of St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners turned over to federal investigators, thousands of voter registration cards that had been submitted for processing to the Board by ACORN.

These voter registration cards contained fraudulent signatures, improper and inaccurate voter information, and duplicative and incorrect names. Included in the voter registration cards that were patently fraudulent was a voter registration card and signature attributed to a fifteen year old girl whose mother alerted the Board that no such card and signature had been completed.

“These voter registration cards were brazenly fraudulent, and we are pleased that the U.S. Attorney’s Office is taking steps to properly prosecute those who commit voter registration fraud,” stated Republican Director Scott Leiendecker.

“The Board will continue to vigorously investigate any and all allegations of election fraud and refer any incidents to the appropriate law enforcement authorities.”

Here’s our video report from October 2006:

UPDATE: More on the indictments from the U.S. Attorney’s Office:

Eight voter registration workers, employed by The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), have been indicted on election fraud charges in connection with the November 2006 general election, United States Attorney Catherine L. Hanaway announced today.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (“ACORN”) is a not-for-profit organization and during 2006 maintained and operated an office at 4304 Manchester Avenue in the City of St. Louis, in part to conduct a voter registration drive for the November 7, 2006 general election.

Project Vote is a not-for-profit organization that works with ACORN to register voters for federal and local elections. Project Vote funded ACORN in the 2006 voter registration drive.

“The allegations of Election Fraud announced today represent criminal activities which undermine the public’s confidence in government. This type of criminal activity should not be tolerated by citizens of the community,” said Hanaway. “We intend to investigate vigorously, and prosecute fully, any allegations of fraud in our election system.”

ACORN and Project Vote recruited and employed workers to obtain voter registrations in the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County during 2006. The workers were trained and instructed by ACORN and Project Vote on how to obtain voter registrations and how to prepare voter registration applications, which included training and instruction that the actual voter must sign the voter application and that a forged signature is a violation of the law.

The indictment alleges that from July through October 2006, the eight defendants indicted today were employed by ACORN as voter registration workers to obtain voter registrations in the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County. They are charged with multiple counts of election fraud for submitting false voter registration applications to the St. Louis City and St. Louis County Board of Election Commissions falsely stating addresses, names and other information of the voters being registered, and which contained forged signatures of the purported applicants, in violation of Title 42, United States Code, Sections 1973i(c) and 1973 gg-10, election fraud.

The indicted individuals are:

  • BRIAN BLAND, St. Louis, Missouri
  • BOBBIE JEAN CHEEKS, a/k/a Dorothy Jones and Bobbie Tobert, St. Louis, Missouri
  • CORTEZ COWAN, St. Louis, Missouri
  • GOLDEN GIBSON, St. Louis, Missouri
  • RADONNA MARIE SMITH, St. Louis, Missouri
  • ANTHONY M. RELIFORD, St. Louis, Missouri
  • KENNETH DEMOND WILLIAMS, St. Louis, Missouri
  • TYAIRA L. WILLIAMS, a/k/a Tootsie Roll, St. Louis, Missouri

If convicted, each count of 42 U.S.C. Section 1973i(c) carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and/or fines up to $ 10,000. Each count of 42 U.S.C. Section 1973gg-10 carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000.

In discussions with the United States Attorney’s Office, ACORN has agreed to implement a plan to improve voter registration and quality control procedures. ACORN is planning to strengthen the system it has to monitor and address performance problems, and has agreed to meet with prosecutors to discuss how best to report possible illegal activity. ACORN has agreed that comprehensive training will be required of all quality control and management staff. ACORN has agreed to the creation of a General Counsel position to monitor ACORN programs, and who will communicate with local election officials to address problems. Further, ACORN has agreed to assign a 13-year ACORN veteran and Missouri Head Organizer to St. Louis full time to personally oversee any future voter registration drive.

“The FBI is committed to investigating all instances of election fraud to ensure the integrity of our democratic system,” said John Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, FBI, St. Louis.

Hanaway acknowledged the assistance of the St. Louis and St. Louis County Election Boards and commended the work performed on the case by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Postal Inspection Service and Assistant United States Attorney Hal Goldsmith, who is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations, and each defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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