2 admit to giving homeless in L.A. money, cigarettes to sign voter registration forms, ballot petitions

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People walk in Los Angeles’ Skid Row on Sept. 28, 2019. (Credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images)

People walk in Los Angeles’ Skid Row on Sept. 28, 2019. (Credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images)

A man and woman pleaded guilty Tuesday for their roles in a scheme that involved offering money and cigarettes to homeless people to get them to sign ballot petitions and voter registration forms in Los Angeles, officials said.

Harold Bennett, 55, and Rose Sweeney, 44, were part of a group of nine charged in the plan to solicit hundreds of false and forged signatures the voter fraud scheme during the 2016 and 2018 election cycles, the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

They would offer homeless people $1 or cigarettes for their signatures, officials said.

Bennett pleaded to one felony count each of circulating an initiative or petition containing false, forged or fictitious names and registering a fictitious person. He was sentenced to a suspended sentence of 16 months in state prison and placed on formal probation for three years, the DA’s office said.

Sweeney pleaded guilty to two felony counts of circulating an initiative or petition containing false, forged or fictitious names. She was gives three years of probation.

“They paid individuals to sign the names,” LAPD Officer Deon Joseph previously told the Los Angeles Times. “That’s an assault on our democracy.”

Others have already been sentenced in connection with the scheme.

In July, Richard Howard, 64, and Louis Thomas Wise, 37, both pleaded no contest to subscribing a false name to a petition and registration of a fictitious person, both felonies.

Christopher Joseph Williams, 41, and Nickey Demelvin Huntley, 45, also pleaded no contest to one felony count of circulating an initiative containing false, forged or fictitious names, the DA’s office said.

They all got probation and Howard and Wise got suspended sentences.

In February, Norman Hall, 62, was sentenced to one year in county jail after he pleaded guilty to one felony count of circulating a petition with false, forged or fictitious names, according to officials.

Kirkland Washington, who faces voter fraud charges, is scheduled in court on Oct. 5.

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