LOS ANGELES—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, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced on July 29.
According to the press release by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Richard Howard and Louis Thomas Wise 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. Christopher Joseph Williams and Nickey Demelvin Huntley 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. Wise was given a suspended sentence of 16 months in state prison and three years of formal probation. Williams and Huntley were sentenced to three years of formal probation, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said.
In February, Norman Hall, a co-defendant, 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 defendants 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 indictment indicates the crimes occurred during the 2016 and 2018 election cycles.
The remaining defendant, Jakara Fati Mardis, is still at large. Prosecutors said the other three are expected to appear in court September 1 for a pretrial hearing.