Former Louisiana police chief indicted in vote-buying scheme

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A former Louisiana police chief and a current city council member have been indicted on criminal charges over an alleged scheme to buy votes in a federal election. 

According to a Department of Justice press release on Tuesday, a federal grand jury indicted former Amite City Police Chief Jerry Trabona and Amite City Council Member Kristian Hart with violating federal election laws. 

A voter stands in a booth at a voting station at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) during the mayoral election process in New York on June 12, 2021. 
( ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images)

“According to the indictment, Trabona, 73, of Amite City, and Hart, 49, of Amite City, conspired to and did unlawfully 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 press release states. 

“The indictment alleges that, in furtherance of the scheme, the 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.”

Both politicians were running for reelection at the time of the alleged crimes.

If convicted of the charges of conspiracy to buy votes and multiple counts of buying votes, both Trabona and Hart face a maximum penalty of five years on each count.

The two defendants are scheduled for their initial court appearance on Dec. 17.

Voting booths.

The Department of Justice also announced two guilty pleas from two other Tangipahoa Parish residents during the 2016 election cycle.

“Sidney Smith, 68, of Amite City, and Calvin Batiste, 64, of Independence. Smith and Batiste each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to buy votes during the 2016 election,” the press release stated.

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