Field Worker Indicted On Voter Fraud Charges (OH)
Prosecutor: Pro-Casino Group Not Tied To Wrongdoing
Cincinnati News. October 21, 2009
CINCINNATI A "rogue employee" for a group tied to Ohio's pro-casino effort was indicted by a grand jury Wednesday on charges that he forged applications for absentee ballots, a prosecutor said.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said an investigation concluded that 27-year-old Walter Sullivan, of Montgomery, acted alone.
Sullivan was a $10-an-hour field worker for a consulting firm hired by the Ohio Jobs and Growth Committee, the group campaigning for the ballot measure to put casinos in Cincinnati and three other Ohio cities.
Deters said the committee cooperated fully and he found no evidence the group was aware of any criminal activity.
The suspect allegedly submitted dozens of absentee ballot applications that would have been sent to actual voters had elections workers not noticed erroneous information or inconsistent signatures.
"I guess he wanted to look like he was busy," Deters said. "The problem is the right to vote in this country is sacred, and the methods by which we register and vote are sacred."
Sullivan is charged with five counts of filing false signatures, and each fifth-degree felony carries a maximum one year in prison if convicted.
Deters indicated that a plea agreement could be in the works. But defense attorney Mike Allen said it was premature to comment.
"At the appropriate time, he will answer the charges," Allen said of Sullivan.
Washington, D.C.-based FieldWorks earlier resigned from the pro-casino effort and said it had fired a worker for alleged fraud.
A spokesman for Ohio Jobs and Growth said the grand jury action confirms that the committee had no role.
"The one person who was indicted this morning is the person that our campaign helped identify and is the one employee who was fired immediately when this situation came to light," spokesman Bob Tenenbaum said. "As far as we're concerned, the action of the grand jury verifies what we said from the very beginning, that this was isolated, that the campaign committee had no idea what was going on."
Jobs and Growth is pushing the Nov. 3 ballot issue to authorize casinos in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus and Toledo.
Deters said there was no connection between the Hamilton County case and recent instances of suspicious absentee applications in Franklin County.