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Kick Assiest Blog
Thursday, June 30, 2005
Dems guilty of vote fraud
Mood:  d'oh
Topic: Lib Loser Stories

Charles Powell Jr., the head of the city's Democratic Party, leaves the courthouse Wednesday, after he and four other defendants in the vote fraud trail were convicted in East St. Louis. >>>>>

Defendants guilty of vote fraud


All five defendants in the vote fraud trial in East St. Louis were convicted by a jury today after five and a half hours of deliberations.

The defendants showed little response when the verdicts were displayed on an overhead projector in federal court. Defendant Sheila Thomas dabbed her eyes, but the other four stared straight ahead.

Charles Powell Jr., the head of the city's Democratic Party, three precinct committeemen and an election worker had been accused of buying votes to get prominent Democrats elected in the Nov. 2 election.

Also convicted were Democratic precinct committee members Thomas, 31, and Jesse Lewis, 56, and City Hall worker Yvette Johnson, 46. Kelvin Ellis, the city's former director of regulatory affairs, along with Thomas, Lewis and Johnson also were convicted of one count apiece of election fraud for allegedly paying at least one person to vote -- or offering to do so. Powell was never charged with that count.

Jurors set aside defense claims that the government's case was flimsy because of unreliable witnesses whose testimony often contradicted each other and, at times, was recanted.

"I respect the jury, but I am disappointed," Ellis' attorney, John O'Gara, said after the verdicts.

O'Gara said the defense attorneys would consider asking for a new trial.

"I would say jurors looked at these tapes and listened to them, and I'm guessing they are using the interpretations these very faulty witnesses gave them to reach their conclusion," O'Gara added. "I would not have trusted the government's presentation."

Ron Tenpas, the U.S. attorney for southern Illinois, applauded the jury's conclusion that "we put together a well-founded case."

"We're not in the business of having ourselves validated," Tenpas said. "We think what the verdict represents is that -- in the judgment of 12 impartial citizens -- when all the evidence is put together we made a strong case."

A date for sentencing was not immediately set.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch ~ Michael Shaw ** Defendants guilty of vote fraud

Posted by uhyw at 10:32 AM EDT

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