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Nine Charged For Bribing Skid Row Homeless For Fake Election Signatures

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Nine people have been charged on allegations they bribed homeless people on Skid Row in exchange for fake signatures as part of a large-scale voter fraud scheme.

The suspects offered homeless people cash and cigarettes in exchange for hundreds of forged or fake signatures on state ballot petitions and voter registration forms, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office reported Tuesday.

The homeless would each be given either $1 or some cigarettes in exchange, the DA's office said.

The scheme took place during the 2016 presidential and the 2018 midterm elections, prosecutors report. It's unclear which specific ballot measures were involved or whether the false signatures were discovered before being verified.

The suspects have been identified as Kirkland Kauzava Washington, 38, Harold Bennett, 53, Louis Thomas Wise, 36. Richard Howard, 62, Rose Makeda Sweeney, 42, Christopher Joseph Williams, 59, Jakara Fati Mardis, 35, Norman Hall, 61, and Nickey Demelvin Huntley, 44.

They face various charges including circulating a petition with false names, use of false names on a petition, voter fraud: registering a fictitious person and voter fraud: registering a nonexistent person.

The defendants face a maximum of anywhere from four to six years in prison if convicted.

The charges were filed on Nov. 1. Several of the suspects will be arraigned Tuesday in L.A. County Superior Court. Prosecutors are recommending bail of $25,000 per suspect.

The FBI and Los Angeles police are investigating the case.


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