Former Local Louisiana Officials, Co-Conspirators Sentenced For Vote-Buying Scheme
Sergey Pakulin / EyeEm/Getty Images

U.S. Department of Justice authorities announced Wednesday that two former officials of a Louisiana city were sentenced to one year in prison for paying or offering to pay citizens for votes.

Court documents show Jerry Trabona, 73, the former Amite City police chief, and Kristian “Kris” Hart, 50, a former Amite City councilmember, conspired to pay citizens residing in Tangipahoa Parish to vote during the 2016 open primary election and the 2016 open general election — contests in which Trabona and Hart were candidates.

“Trabona and Hart’s vote buying scheme included the solicitation and hiring of individuals responsible for identifying potential voters, the transportation of those voters to the polls, and payment and offer of payment to the voters for voting,” a news release from the DOJ stated.

Authorities also ordered Trabona to pay a $10,000 fine for his role in the conspiracy.

The Sinclair Broadcast Group’s National Desk reported federal authorities initially charged Trabona and Hart with one count of conspiracy to commit vote-buying and multiple counts of vote-buying and aiding and abetting.

Trabona allegedly concealed his scheme by soliciting voters to sign contracts that falsely stated they would not “make any overture of any kind to any voter or other person of financial award or benefit in exchange for a vote.”

“The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that illegal voting, including vote buying, has no place in our nation’s electoral system,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, said in a news release last summer.

U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans for the Eastern District of Louisiana said in a press release that the state must have “fair elections, free from the taint of corruption, to ensure a fully functional government.”

“Safeguarding the voting process is of paramount importance to our office and the Department of Justice,” Evans said.

Authorities said that providing voters with money or something of value in exchange for a vote constitutes a federal crime.

Officials said co-conspirator Sidney Smith, 69, of Amite City, paid voters with money provided by Trabona and Hart.

Smith was sentenced to four months in prison for his role in the scheme.

Two other co-conspirators — Calvin Batiste and Louis Ruffino — were also involved. Officials said they would be sentenced at a later date.

The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Former Local Louisiana Officials, Co-Conspirators Sentenced For Vote-Buying Scheme