SOUTH BEND – A former Democratic Party county chairman in northern Indiana has been charged with leading a scheme to forge signatures on petitions to place Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on the states 2008 presidential primary ballot.
The St. Joseph County prosecutors office filed felony charges of conspiracy to commit forgery and other charges against 63-year-old Butch Morgan on Monday. Three former workers in the county voter registration office also face forgery and other charges.
Prosecutors contend in court documents that Morgan directed the workers to forge voter names and signatures onto Obama and Clinton petitions from valid petitions for Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Jim Schellinger.
A state police detective found nine petitions submitted for Obama with forged entries and 13 petitions for Clinton with forgeries, according to an affidavit filed with the court.
Morgan denied any wrongdoing when he resigned in October after 16 years as county chairman. The South Bend Tribune and the Howey Politics Indiana newsletter reported they had found hundreds of questionable signatures on the Obama and Clinton petitions.
A phone message from The Associated Press on Tuesday seeking comment from Morgans attorney, Mike Tuszynski, wasnt immediately returned.
The court documents say another voter registration office employee told investigators that Morgan told the workers to forge the petition signatures.
That worker, who wasnt charged, showed investigators Obama petitions that he had faked and told police he saw one of the defendants forging names on Clinton petitions.
The most serious charge against Morgan and the workers carries a maximum possible sentence of eight years in prison.
Indiana law requires candidates for president, senator and governor to submit ballot petitions signed by at least 500 registered voters in each of the states congressional districts to qualify for the statewide primary ballot. Clinton narrowly won the 2008 Indiana primary, but Obama won many delegates in his successful drive for the nomination.