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2 charged in voter fraud

Denver pair accused of falsely filling out forms to boost pay

By Gary Gerhardt, Rocky Mountain News
October 28, 2004

Denver prosecutors charged two people Wednesday with falsely filling out multiple voter forms to boost their pay in a paid registration drive.

Monique Mora, 20, and Pelonne Page, 21, both of Denver, were charged with six counts of procuring false registrations, a misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine.

District Attorney Bill Ritter said the pair worked for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, known as ACORN, which is one of a number of organizations that paid people to sign up voters this year.

Those registration drives helped drive the voter rolls up by more than 300,000 but have spawned a number of investigations into fraudulent and duplicate registrations and made some officials uneasy about the integrity of the election process.

Criminal cases are pending against four people for questionable registrations in the metro area, and there may be more before investigations are completed.

Jim Fleischmann, ACORN's regional director for election-related activities, said from his Montana office Wednesday that the group is proud of having signed 32,000 new voters in Colorado this year, but is sorry that two of its people tried to pad their pay through phony registrations.

"We pay by the hour, not the registration, and by duplicating about 30 cards, they could justify billing us for hours they didn't work," he said.

Fleischmann said the group has an internal audit and often catches cards with similar names except for middle initials and that they're registered to the same address or that the same name is spelled different ways.

"And when these duplicates come through the board of elections office and are processed, they are caught and we are advised by the local DA's offices."

Ritter said that is what happened in this case and ACORN was helpful in backtracking to find out who the people involved were.

"There was no indication that any of the people intended to vote more than once," Ritter said.

"So far this election, we have about 150 to 200 suspicious voter registration cards, but no other charges have yet been filed," he said.

"We don't feel there is any grand conspiracy out there to corrupt the outcome of the election, but these simply were people wanting to make money without doing the work."

Adams County District Attorney Bob Grant said his office is investigating about 10 suspicious voter registration cases and he doesn't know when they will be complete or whether there will be any arrests.

"We still have a voter fraud allegation pending from the August primary election," he said.

While most cases are misdemeanors, Grant warned they could easily become felonies if someone forges the name of another on a card or if a person attempts to overcharge his employer by $500 or more.

Watching the polls

• Handling complaints: Thomas O'Rourke, an assistant U.S. attorney in Colorado, will be on duty while the polls are open Nov. 2 to handle complaints of election fraud and voting rights abuses in consultation with U.S. Justice Department headquarters in Washington.

• Law enforcement: The FBI also will have special agents available in Colorado to receive allegations of election fraud and other election abuses.

• How to contact: The FBI can be reached at 303-629-7171, or in Colorado Springs at 719-633-3852.

• To file a complaint: Complaints about ballot access problems or discrimination can be made directly to the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, voting section, in Washington at 1-800-253-3931 or 202-307-2767.

Pending voter registration fraud cases:

• Monique Mora, 20, and Pelonne Page, 21, both of Denver, charged with six counts of procuring false registrations, a misdemeanor.

• John S. MaCarthy, 27, of Aurora, charged in August by the Colorado Attorney General's Office in Jefferson County District Court with four counts of forgery of a public record, a felony, and one count of procuring false voter registrations, a misdemeanor.

• Ajmal Shah, 29, of Denver, a citizen of Afghanistan who has lived in the United States since 1983 and registered to vote last year as a Republican, is not a U.S. citizen and is not entitled to vote, according to federal prosecutors. He is charged with making a false claim or statement in registering to vote, a felony.

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