Election Fraud Cases
Vafalay Massaquoi pleaded guilty to one count of falsifying voter registration applications and two counts of forging a public record. While working for New Virginia Majority, a liberal advocacy group, Massaquoi filed voter applications for completely made-up Alexandria residents. An Alexandria official noticed the voter applications were all filled out in the same handwriting and turned the documents over to the authorities. Massaquoi was sentenced to five years' imprisonment for each count. His sentences were set to run concurrently and will be suspended pending his good behavior. He was also sentenced to 500 hours of community service.
Andrew Spieles pleaded guilty to charges stemming from his submission of eighteen fraudulent voter registrations in connection with the 2016 presidential election. While working for Harrisonburg Votes, a voter registration organization affiliated with the Democratic Party, Spieles falsified voter registration information. In some cases, he registered deceased individuals. In others, he fabricated information about residents so he could submit applications without their approval. Spieles was sentenced to 100 days' imprisonment.
Mary P. Taylor was found guilty of a misdemeanor charge of "communicating false information to registered voters." Taylor, a critic of the Hampton school board, designed a fake website registered in the name of Ann Stephens Cherry, a candidate for the board, which endorsed incumbent Martha Mugler. On the website, Taylor posted a fake election date that fell one week after the real election. The Judge sentenced Taylor to 100 hours of community service and imposed a $1,000 fine.
When Billy Mills ran for sheriff in Nelson County, he submitted a candidate qualification form with an address in that county. It was later uncovered that Mills did not live at the address he provided and was not a resident of Nelson County. This was a clear violation of state law that requires all members of government to be residents in the district over which they preside. Mills was originally charged with a Class 5 felony. As part of a plea deal, it was reduced to a misdemeanor. He was sentenced to six month suspended sentence.
Jennifer Derrebery, of Bassett, pleaded guilty to felony counts of election fraud and perjury after she produced hundreds of fraudulent signatures on a petition to get Newt Gingrich on the ballot for the Republican presidential nomination. She received a 10-year suspended sentence and five years' probation, and she was required to pay $1,266 in court costs.
Bonnie Nicholson pleaded guilty to forgery and election fraud. Despite being a felon and ineligible to vote, Nicholson registered and then voted in the 2012 election. She was sentenced to five years in prison on each charge, all of which were suspended, and one year of probation on each charge.
Adam Ward, an employee of the Gingrich presidential campaign, pleaded guilty to 36 counts of voter fraud, as well as perjury after admitting that he forged signatures during the drive to get Gingrich on the Virginia primary ballot. Out of 11,000 signatures collected by Ward, 4,000 could not be confirmed.
Michael Anthony Harris, a convicted felon, pleaded guilty to illegally registering to vote and subsequently voting in the 2008 election. Harris was sentenced to four days in jail.
Feda Morton, a former congressional candidate, pleaded guilty to falsifying a campaign document after admitting that she convinced friends to sign a petition to get a favored political candidate on the ballot for a 2011 election. Submitting the signatures for notarization, Morton attested to having personally witnessed the signatures even though she hadn't. Morton was sentenced to probation.
Sheila Peterson, of Chesterfield County, Virginia, pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, a charge that had been reduced from a felony count of making a false statement on an election form. Peterson, a convicted felon, certified that she was eligible to vote on a registration form for the 2008 election. Peterson, who was incarcerated prior to sentencing because of a failed drug test, was sentenced to time served.
James Halfaday pleaded guilty to a felony election fraud after admitting that he lied about his residency while running for Charlottesville City Council. Halfaday received a five-year prison sentence, with all but 60 days suspended. He was ordered to complete 40 hours of community service.
Bonnie Nicholson, of Louisa County, Virginia, pleaded guilty to two counts of election fraud in 2010. She illegally registered to vote and cast a ballot in the 2008 presidential election, despite the fact that she was ineligible due to a felony conviction. Nicholson was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment, which was suspended.
Bernard Pace pleaded guilty to charges of election fraud and forgery. Pace voted in the 2008 election despite being a felon and therefore ineligible. He was sentenced to a five year suspended prison term.
Former Appalachia mayor Ben Cooper and 14 others were convicted of voter fraud after conspiring to manipulate the 2004 elections in his town by buying the votes of residents, offering them cigarettes, beer, and pork rinds. He and his supporters also stole absentee ballots from the mail. This was the largest voter fraud conspiracy to date in Virginia. Cooper was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but the term was suspended after he served two years in jail and another two years in electronic home monitoring detention. Most of the other 14 defendants received suspended sentences or house arrest.
Cassandra Ritter, a felon convicted on heroin distribution charges, cast a ballot despite being an ineligible voter due to her prior conviction. Ritter pleaded guilty and received a suspended two-year prison sentence and two years of supervised probation.