In an election decided by 14 votes, a conviction on seven more ballot fraud charges:
Jurors found 49-year-old Lesa Coleman guilty of seven of the 11 felony absentee ballot fraud charges against her in relation to the District 2 Dothan City Commission election won by Amos Newsome. A grand jury originally returned 29 felony charges against Coleman, but Circuit Court Judge Butch Binford dismissed 18 of them. Coleman faces between one and 10 years in prison for the charges, according to Houston County Assistant District Attorney Banks Smith…
While the district attorney’s office has no ability to pursue a civil election challenge, Smith said Danzey likely would have been successful if she had sought to formally challenge Newsome’s victory.
Another fraudster in the case already pleaded guilty to eight counts, bringing the total to 15 so far; two more await trial, including Newsome’s girlfriend, who is charged with 44 counts of absentee ballot fraud.
Lesa Renee Coleman “was one of four people charged after an investigation by the Houston County Sheriff’s Office in May 2014. Coleman now only faces 17 felony absentee ballot fraud charges after a dozen were dismissed Monday upon request by the prosecution. Coleman was one of three women who worked on the 2013 campaign for District 2 City Commissioner Amos Newsome.”
“In the August election, Newsome beat challenger Lamesa Danzey by 14 votes. Newsome received 119 of the 124 absentee votes that were cast.”
Awaiting trial in the case are Olivia Reynolds, who faces 44 counts of absentee ballot fraud, and Daniel Reynolds, also charged with felony fraud. A fourth defendant, Janice Hart, went to trial in January and pleaded guilty to reduced misdemeanor fraud charges.
“Eyes and ears on the ground”:
Responding to “numerous questions or concerns,” Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill’s office will “dispatch an Election Quick Response Team to monitor the Special School Tax Referendum Election in Baldwin County on Tuesday, March 31, 2015.”
Earlier this month, the state launched the Alabama Election Fairness Project to investigate and prosecute voter fraud and other illegal election activity. The Secretary of State’s office also maintains a dedicated Voter Fraud Unit that handles complaints.