McCotter Aide Sentenced for Part in Signature Snafu

Posted October 25, 2012 at 1:39pm

The four staffers charged with filing fraudulent ballot petitions on behalf of their former boss, ex-Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.), are one by one learning their legal fates.

Today, Lorianne O’Brady was sentenced to 20 days in jail or 20 days in a work program, which will be followed by an 18-month probationary period and payment of $2,625 in fines.

On Sept. 18, O’Brady pleaded guilty to five misdemeanor counts of falsely signing a nominating petition as a circulator, a misdemeanor. She is the only staffer to admit wrongdoing. Three others have maintained their innocence.

On Tuesday, Don Yowchuang and Paul Seewald learned they would stand trial for allegations that they sought to act in an illegal manner and falsely sign a nominating petition as a circulator for McCotter’s re-election bid. They will be arraigned on Nov. 6, Election Day.

“State election laws apply to everyone, and public employees are no exception. We are confident in our case and prepared for trial,” Joy Yearout, spokeswoman for Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, said at the time.

Next Thursday, a district court judge will determine whether Melissa Mary Turnbull, who is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit a legal act in an illegal manner and one count of falsely signing a nominating petition, will also stand trial.

McCotter dropped his re-election bid in June, after filing only about a quarter of the requisite 1,000 valid signatures to get on the Aug. 7 primary ballot. His petitions were rife with errors and duplications, and the state attorney general launched an investigation soon after.

He resigned from office in July and has flown beneath the radar since. He made a rare public appearance earlier this month at the preliminary examination for Yowchuang and Seewald and testified that staffers repeatedly told him there were enough signatures to qualify him for the ballot in his re-election race.

“Every inquiry made, including my own, is that we were on target,” McCotter said, according to local media reports. “The answer was always, ‘Everything was fine.’”