Vote or Die- East St. Louis Style

More on the East St. Louis Vote Fraud Investigations:

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

…Federal officials made only measured statements at a news conference, and hinted there is more to come from a yearlong investigation. This is “the beginning of a concerted and focused effort to root out public corruption,” said Weysan Dun, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Springfield, Ill., field office, which has jurisdiction over the Metro East area.

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 precinct committeeman with close ties to the community’s Democratic Party leaders.

The indictments accuse Ellis of trying to have an unidentified witness killed. Court documents say he is a target of an ongoing vote fraud inquiry. He also is accused in a separate indictment of income tax evasion.

The investigation became public last year when more than a dozen subpoenas were delivered to city Democratic Party leaders after the November election.

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.”

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.”

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.

The fraud investigations were first reported in the Post Dispatch in early January…

The investigation is limited to 13 absentee votes that were cast from a boardinghouse in East St. Louis. The federal government has declined to talk about its case, but a search warrant issued during an FBI raid at East St. Louis City Hall on Nov. 23 indicates that the reach is much greater. Oliver Hamilton, a Democratic precinct committeeman, owns the boardinghouse, at 1232 Cleveland Avenue, targeted by the investigation.

Update: (2:01 PM) Powerline is giving this story a voice.

Update 2: (4:16 PM) Lori Byrd at Polipundit takes notice.

Update 3: (12:31 PM 1/23/05) Michelle Malkin adds fuel to the fire.

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