Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. today charged seven employees of ACORN -- the left-leaning Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now -- with forgery and election law violations, saying they filed hundreds of fraudulent voter registrations during last year's general election.
Mr. Zappala said there is no indication that any of the fraudulent registrations resulted in fraudulent votes. Rather, it appeared the workers were submitting fake or doctored registration forms in order to be paid their daily $40 wage.
The forgery counts -- 51 in all -- are third-degree felonies, the most serious of the charges brought, Mr. Zappala said during a press conference today.
Mr. Zappala said his office is currently in talks with some of the defendants and he indicated that the investigation could expand. In all, ACORN claimed to have registered 38,000 voters in Allegheny County last year, he said.
At present, he said, he has strong indications that a quota system, which is a misdemeanor in Pennsylvania, was in place in the ACORN registration drive here.
Ashley Lucille Clarke, 21, of Pittsburgh with forgery, solicitation of registration for pay, unsworn falsification of authorities, obstructing the administration of law or government function, interference with voter registration, and impersonating another person in a voter registration application.
Alexis M. Givner, 23, of West Mifflin, forgery, solicitation, unsworn falsification, obstruction, interference and impersonation.
Mario Wyatt Grisom, 28, of Pittsburgh, with forgery, solicitation, unsworn falsification, obstruction, interference and impersonation. Mr. Zappala said Mr. Grisom solicited a county elections office employee for a registration. The person filled out the form with everything but a name and social security number by way of testing what would happen, according to elections director Mark Wolosik. The form was later submitted by ACORN with a forged signature and false social security number.
Latasha Leann Kinney, 27, no address listed, forgery, solicitation, unsworn falsification, obstruction, interference and impersonation.
Eric Eugene Jordan, 19, of Pittsburgh, solicitation for pay and interference. He is accused of filing three applications in his own name in order to meet his daily quota.
Eric Lee Jones, 20, of Pittsburgh, forgery, solicitation, unsworn falsification, obstruction and interference. He is accused of filing 30 fraudulent applications.
Bryan Williams, 22, of McKeesport, obstruction and interference. Mr. Williams is accused of filing 22 registration applications in his own name -- including 19 in 2008 alone -- apparently to meet his daily quota.
He said at least one of the ACORN registration workers had been fired from the group in 2006 for submitting fraudulent registrations, but was hired for last year's drive.
Two of the workers charged today were already in custody. Mr. Jordan was served his warrant at the Allegheny County Jail, where he is being held on DUI and gun charges. Mr. Williams, officials said, was served his summons at a halfway house.
The charges are part of a continuing investigation of ACORN, which has been targeted for election fraud in several other states where similar, fake voter registrations were filed by hourly employees apparently attempting to meet daily registration quotas in order to be paid.
In some states -- including Pennsylvania -- registration quotas are illegal. In Nevada, which has a similar statute, the state attorney general on Monday charged ACORN, its former Nevada field director and former regional director for voter registration with filing thousands of "garbage" registrations in order to meet an illegal daily quota of 20 new voters.
ACORN officials have denied those charges.