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Perfect election, not! Ex-police chief, city councilman admit to buying votes in Louisiana

Figures plead guilty to federal crimes in scheme that stretched from 2016 to 2020; DOJ says "illegal voting, including vote buying, has no place in our nation’s electoral system."

Published: July 21, 2022 3:55pm

Updated: July 21, 2022 4:16pm

A former police chief and current city council member in Louisiana have both pleaded guilty to federal charges in what prosecutors say was a vote buying scheme in the 2016 and 2020 elections.

Jerry Trabona, 72, the former Amite City police chief, and City Councilman Kristian “Kris” Hart, 49, pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiring to pay and offering to pay voters in Tangipahoa Parish for voting in the 2016 primary and general elections. 

The two also admitted they agreed with each other and others to pay or offer to pay voters during contests in which the defendants were candidates, and in which federal candidates appeared on the same ballot.

Hart also pleaded guilty to three counts of paying and offering to pay voters during both the 2016 and 2020 elections. In both elections, Hart was running for the Amite City Council.

“The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that illegal voting, including vote buying, has no place in our nation’s electoral system,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite said Thursday after the deal was reached in federal court in New Orleans.

Added U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans: tern District of Louisiana. “Safeguarding the voting process is of paramount importance to our office and the Department of Justice.”.” 

Both men face up to five years in prison on each count when they are sentenced on Nov. 1.

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