The Big Picture- East St. Louis Voter Fraud

(The following information was collected from the St. Louis Post Dispatch, The Belleville News Democrat and the St. Louis American and other sources. All of the information can be referenced in previous articles on the Gateway Pundit blogsite. This is a compilation of many articles and brings the story to where it stands as of today January 27,2005. This story is still unfolding. Kelvin Ellis has been held since Friday pending a hearing scheduled for today . Other indictments may follow.)

On Friday, Januray 21, 2005, Kelvin Ellis, a top administrator at East St. Louis City Hall, was indicted for plotting to kill a witness in the year long East St. Louis, Illinois federal vote fraud investigation.

Ellis, 55, who once served a prison term after abusing a city post, is now the director of regulatory affairs, which puts him in charge of housing inspections. He also is a democrat precinct committeeman with close ties to the community’s Democratic Party leaders.

According to one of Ellis’ indictments, the investigation began at least a month earlier. A female witness told agents on Oct. 5 that Ellis, “had committed election fraud and other potential criminal offenses.” Ellis learned the same day of the substance of what she had said, the indictment states.

In the following days, Ellis spoke repeatedly with an unidentified person, first discussing plans to discredit the witness, perhaps through a bogus drug sting, court documents say. The indictment includes excerpts of what appear to be recordings of these conversations between Ellis and the other person.

“I want her credibility destroyed,” Ellis is reported to have said. She is “trying to destroy us. No telling what she’s saying.”

Ellis worked on a plan to plant one-half ounce of crack cocaine on the witness and have her arrested.

As the weeks passed, the conversations turned more sinister, with Ellis saying on Nov. 19, “I want her … taken out, however we have to do it.”

The talk shifted from a set-up to Ellis’ alleged instructions to “dispose of her.”

The other person showed Ellis a photograph “depicting what appeared to be the murdered” witness, the indictment states. The other person told Ellis, falsely, she was thrown to the bottom of Horseshoe Lake in Madison County, Illinois.

According to the indictment, Ellis also tried to corruptly influence several witnesses to invoke their right to remain silent when they appeared before a grand jury in November. For all this alleged activity, including the attempted murder accusations, he faces four charges of obstruction of justice.

Ellis was convicted in 1990 of extortion. He had been an executive assistant to Mayor Carl E. Officer, officials said, when Ellis stopped work on a nursing home project until its builder steered work to a company Ellis controlled. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 21 months. Since that time, Ellis worked part time for the city until he was hired permanently in 2001.

Ellis, 55, of East St. Louis, came under a spotlight publicly when FBI agents raided City Hall on Nov. 23 and took from his office computer hard drives, boxes of files and his lizard-skin briefcase. He’s a Democrat precinct committeeman with ties to other leaders in the city.

Two weeks after the Nov. 2 election, a grand jury was convened and at least 14 democratic committeemen of the city’s 44 precinct committeemen, including Ellis, were called to testify.

Nine East St. Louis Democratic precinct committeemen appeared before a federal grand jury on Thursday (November 18th) and were questioned about money they received for the Nov. 2 election.

This comes two days after FBI agents served subpoenas to key Democrats compelling them to testify and produce documents related to how they spent money in the most recent election.

Precinct committeemen Robert Eastern Jr., Kelvin Ellis, Harry Hollingsworth, Eddie Lee Jackson, Daryl Moore, Edith Moore, Charles Powell, Donna Samuels and Sheila Thomas appeared before a grand jury in East St. Louis conducted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith.

Subpoenas issued to party leaders specified committeemen to produce records relating to receipt of money in the Nov. 2 election, including budgets, receipts, checks, precinct sheets, polls lists, deposit slips and bank statements.

The subpoenas delivered Tuesday aren’t the first suggestion of possible East St. Louis voting irregularities. Illinois Republican Party chairman and state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka traveled there four days before the election questioning absentee ballot procedures.

Topinka highlighted a high number of absentee ballots and multiple names registered to the same address in East St. Louis, including a boarding house operated by Powell.

A spokesman for the state Republican Party, Jason Gerwig, said Republicans were concerned about “… instances of voter fraud we discovered just before the November election. We are pleased the U.S. attorney shares our concern.”

The likely boarding house address in question is 1232 Cleveland Avenue.

Oliver Hamilton, a Democratic precinct committeeman, owns the boardinghouse, at 1232 Cleveland Avenue, targeted by the investigation.

A total of 30 registered voters, most with different last names, are purported to live at 1232 Cleveland Ave. a home for the mentally ill in East St. Louis. The address is registered to Oliver Hamilton, a Democrat and 20th precinct committeeman. Eleven of the voters requested absentee ballots for the election Tuesday. Hamilton couldn’t be reached for comment.

A St. Clair County grand jury is probing whether the mentally ill tenants of a boarding home at 1232 Cleveland Ave., in East St. Louis, were induced into committing voting fraud.

On Tuesday (January 4,2005), St. Clair County sheriff’s deputies showed up at the boarding house, which is owned by Oliver Hamilton, the Democratic committeeman for Precinct 20.

The deputies served subpoenas to 13 men and women who voted absentee in the Nov. 2 election and who are registered to vote from that address.

Bob Haida, the county state’s attorney, declined to state whether the vote fraud probe will extend to other boarding homes for the mentally ill — including one at 1714 Bond Ave., East St. Louis, that is owned by Charles Powell, the Democratic committeeman for Precinct 9 and chairman of the city’s Democratic Central Committee.

“Without getting into any other specific locations,” Haida said, “we would be looking at specific patterns of absentee voting, or voting in general or registration patterns that would indicate possible illegality.”

Over the years, scores of residents at the boarding homes owned by Hamilton and Powell have been registered to vote.

Also:

• Of the 44 Democratic precinct committeemen in East St. Louis, 22 have at least three registered voters with different last names purporting to live at the committeemen’s homes. Seven of those committeemen have five or more.

• One woman listed the Casino Queen, 200 S. Front St., as her home address. The same woman requested her absentee ballot be sent to a St. Louis address.

• At least 678 voters are registered for both East St. Louis and St. Clair County.

• At Powell’s home, 1714 Bond Ave., 17 voters are registered. Of those, 14 cast ballots in the March primary election.

Five days after the first round of grand jury testimony, a group of FBI agents swarmed City Hall during business hours, asked workers to step away from their desks and began to unhook computers and to put files into boxes.

FBI agents even shut down ESL City Hall, raiding the offices of the ESL City Manager, Bob Storman, Regulatory Affairs Director, Kelvin Ellis , seizing boxes of records and computers as evidence into what has become a far-reaching investigation of scandalous proportions.

Those within ESL political circles have been anticipating such an investigation for some time. Nonetheless, this “political cattle call” sent ESL political big shots running for cover, prior to being herded into court for their initial November 18 testimony.

Among those subpoenaed were ESL political “Godfather”, Charlie Powell, former mayoral candidate Eddie Jackson, ESL Director of Regulatory Affairs (and felon) Kelvin Ellis, Deputy Police Chief Rudy “Showtime” McIntosh and a host of other precinct committeemen and political leaders.

Illinois State Board of Elections records reveal that 40 (of 44) ESL (democrat) precinct committeemen have received nearly $230,000 (collectively), over the past four years, for their ‘political activism’ in ESL elections.

Sources also stated that, on October 31, over $80,000 was distributed to ESL politicians, at the East St. Louis VFW Hall, for the purpose of “getting out the vote”.

East St. Louis played a critical role in the St. Clair County Board chairman race between the Democratic candidate, Belleville Mayor Mark Kern, and the Republican candidate, County Board member Steve Reeb.

Outside East St. Louis, Reeb won 52 percent of the votes to Kern’s 48 percent. But in East St. Louis, a typically Democratic city, Kern captured 82 percent of the vote and defeated Reeb by more than 4,000 votes.

Kern donated $177,730 to the County Democratic Central Committee between Oct. 17 and Nov. 1, records showed.

More than $80,000 in money from the committee to get out the vote Nov. 2 was distributed Oct. 31 at the East St. Louis Veterans of Foreign Wars post, according to unnamed political sources.

Murnane, with the Illinois Civil Justice League, said he also was suspicious about the Madison County Democratic Team’s plans for $62,000 that prominent asbestos attorney Randy Bono and his East Alton personal injury firm, SimmonsCooper, donated to the group on Friday (10/22/04).

“Why do they need all that money?” Ed Murnane ICJL president asked. “We are concerned with what kind of money that group will spend on Election Day activities – and what they will spend it on.”

Steve McGlynn, a former chairman of the St. Clair County Republican Party, said he had received “specific information” that Democrats planned to buy votes, particularly in East St. Louis, with cash and crack cocaine. McGlynn declined to identify the Democratic officials who he said had provided him with that information.

Robert Sprague, the St. Clair County Democratic chairman, dismissed McGlynn’s allegations as “hogwash.” Sprague said the Democrats were planning an aggressive get-out-the-vote push for Tuesday but declined to describe those efforts in detail.

McGlynn said he had delivered to the St. Clair County clerk’s office and the East St. Louis Election Board lists of hundreds of registered voters that he had cross-referenced with names from local obituary pages. He described voter fraud as a “real, legitimate problem” with a long history in St. Clair County.

Federal prosecutors recently have worked on the following cases involving people connected to politics in East St. Louis:

• Former precinct committeeman Charles Roy was placed on six months home detention with electronic monitoring after pleading guilty to charges he had falsified pay records for a federally funded housing project in December 2000.

• Former precinct committeeman Marvis “Swamp Dog” Bownes was sentenced to 17 years in prison in October 2003 after pleading guilty to federal charges of defrauding banks in a property flipping scam.

So who is Former Democratic committeeman from Precinct 42, Marvis “Swamp Dog” Bownes?

Marvis “Swamp Dog” Bownes can’t start his new life in prison soon enough, at least as far as Rosie Stringer is concerned.

Stringer, 54, bought her crumbling house at 817 N. 42nd St. from Bownes more than three years ago for $55,000 — or more than a dozen times its fair market value.

For Bownes, the sale to Stringer meant a windfall. Just three months before, he had bought the house and two others in East St. Louis for a total of $18,800.

Diane Thompson, a staff attorney for the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation of East St. Louis, said she was glad to see Bownes put out of business because he was, by far, the area’s biggest property flipper. He bought decrepit properties for very little, conned buyers with cosmetic fixes or promises of repairs and defrauded lenders by providing documents claiming the houses were worth the greatly inflated prices and that the borrowers had solid credit histories.

• Former election judge Leander Brooks was sentenced to 18 months in prison on federal charges of vote fraud last month. Leander received an 18-month prison term for forging the signatures on ballot applications in the November 2002 election, allowing unregistered or otherwise illegitimate voters to cast the ballots.

Nearly a year ago (in 2002), Vincent Pensoneau of East St. Louis did something truly incredible. So did his relatives, Albert and Alferetta Pensoneau.

On Nov. 5, 2002, the three Pensoneaus cast ballots in the general election out of Precinct 26 in East St. Louis.

Trouble is, all three were dead at the time.

Which helps explain why Leander Brooks, 39, a Precinct 26 election judge, was arraigned Friday (2003) before a federal magistrate judge on four counts of vote fraud.

Leander, 40, a Precinct 26 democratic election judge, was

arraigned before a federal magistrate judge in East St. Louis on four counts of

vote fraud.

Brooks later pleaded guilty to the charges. In late September a federal judge sentenced him to 18 months in prison — the first time vote fraud charges have ever sent a metro-east resident to prison.

• Prominent developer Phil Cohn, a supporter of Democratic candidates, who was indicted in April, along with his wife, on federal fraud charges. Cohn is a businessman with ties to Charlie Powell and Kelvin Ellis, two of the precinct

committeemen subpoenaed by the federal grand jury in East St. Louis last month. The main charge against Cohn is that he allegedly siphoned $330,000 from a $1 million bank escrow account to clean up land for the new middle school in East St. Louis.

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