CALIFORNIA— Four men were sentenced on Friday, July 24 for their involvement in a large-scale scheme where homeless individuals on Skid Row were bribed in exchange for forged signatures on ballot petitions and voter registration forms, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Richard Howard, 64, and Louis Thomas Wise, 37, both pleaded no contest to falsifying names on petitions and voting registration forms, both which are felonies. In addition, Christopher Joseph Williams, 41, and Nickey Demelvin Huntley, 45, also pleaded no contest to one felony count of circulating an initiative containing false, forged or fictitious names.
All four men were sentenced July 24 with Howard given a suspended sentence of three years in state prison and three years of probation, Wise also received a suspended sentence of 16 months in state prison and three years of formal probation, meaning they can serve the prison time after their probation is completed. There lies a possibility that time in prison may be eliminated if the men do not commit additional crimes. Williams and Huntley were each sentenced to three years of formal probation.
This is not the first time a person is convicted over bribing the homeless population in order to obtain voter registration fraud. Co-defendant Norman Hall, 62, pleaded guilty in February. Hall was sentenced to one year in county jail, three years of formal probation, and 100 hours of community service.
The men allegedly bribed homeless individuals on Skid row with one dollar each and cigarettes in exchange for signatures based on fake identities. According to the DA’s office, this scheme obtained hundreds of false signatures with the completed intention of pushing through initiatives in the 2016 and 2018 elections.
Four other individuals remain charged in the same scheme on the same allegations, including 37-year-old Jakara Fati Mardis who remains at large. The other three individuals are set to appear in court on September 1 for a pretrial hearing.