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Two Louisiana Men Indicted in Alleged Vote-Buying Scheme

December 14, 2021 by Dan McCue
Two Louisiana Men Indicted in Alleged Vote-Buying Scheme
(Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

NEW ORLEANS — Two Louisiana men — one a former police chief; the other, a current elected official — have been indicted on charges they engaged in a scheme to pay for votes in a federal election.

According to the indictment handed down by a federal grand jury Tuesday, former Amite City Police Chief Jerry Trabona and current Amite City Councilmember Kristian Hart conspired to pay voters to cast their ballots for certain candidates during the 2016 open primary election and the 2016 open general election in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana. 

The indictment states the alleged conspirators solicited and hired individuals to identify potential voters, transported those voters to the polls where they were provided with the names and candidate numbers of candidates, and paid the voters to cast their ballots for candidates. 

Trabona and Hart are each charged with conspiracy to buy votes and multiple counts of buying votes. 

The defendants are scheduled to make their initial court appearance on Friday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Wells Roby of the Eastern District of Louisiana. 

If convicted, they face a maximum penalty of five years in prison on each count. 

The Justice Department also announced the guilty pleas of two additional Tangipahoa Parish residents for their involvement in vote buying in Tangipahoa Parish during the 2016 election period.

Sidney Smith, of Amite City, and Calvin Batiste, of Independence, Louisiana, both pleaded guilty to being part of a vote-buying conspiracy before U.S. District Judge Martin L.C. Feldman on Dec. 8. Both now face a maximum penalty of five years in prison. 

A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The FBI is continuing to investigate the case.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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