ESL Vote Fraud Trial Gets Nasty

* An FBI agent testified Tuesday that St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern was caught on tape agreeing to buy votes in East St. Louis during the Nov. 2 election. *

* Steve Reeb who narrowly lost to Kern, after the votes from east St. Louis were counted, will testify in this case of federal election fraud on Thursday. *

Kern has not been charged with vote buying but the new testimony is damning. Kern narrowly won an election for St. Clair County Board Chaiman in November and only after votes from East St. Louis were added to his total vote count.

Mark Kern, the former mayor of Belleville, was elected on Nov. 2 as St. Clair County Board chairman in a close race with Republican Steve Reeb. Reeb was winning the countywide race by 4,000 votes until East St. Louis votes were counted. There, Kern got about 85 percent of the vote and won the seat by 4,000 votes.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported today that:

This testimony came as a surprise to the defense and prosecution and the jury was released for the day ffollowing the testimony.

The comments from Special Agent John Jimenez came as a surprise to prosecutors, defense attorneys and the judge.

The agent’s remarks were made at the end of a long day of intense cross-examination from Bruce Cook, an attorney for one of five East St. Louisans on trial for conspiracy to buy votes.

Kern has not been charged with any wrongdoing, and no evidence has been entered in the trial to implicate him.

The prosecutors had put Jimenez on the stand to shore up shaky testimony from two witnesses who had provided conflicting testimony and recanted some of what they had said in earlier statements to prosecutors.

But Cook took the government’s witness and used him to chip away at the credibility of former East St. Louis Deputy Police Chief Rudy McIntosh and former City Hall employee Dannita Youngblood, who wore wires and collected the evidence that led to the indictments.

Cook also tried to get Jimenez to admit that the Republican-controlled federal government was after bigger fish – members of the St. Clair County Democratic Party, specifically Kern.

“And it really, really would be quite a catch, wouldn’t it, if you caught Mark Kern agreeing to buy votes, wouldn’t it?” Cook said to Jimenez.

“Yeah, we did,” Jimenez said.

“You did?” replied Cook.

“We catch (sic) a conversation with him about that, yes,” Jimenez said.

“When?”

“I believe it was Oct. 30. It was a Saturday.”

Seconds later, Cook suggested to U.S. District Judge G. Patrick Murphy that they break for the day. The judge agreed, and the jury and Jimenez were excused.

Cook then asked Murphy to strike the comments Jimenez made. Murphy said the comments would stand.

“A federal agent just told us unequivocally that he caught Mark Kern buying votes on Oct. 30,” Murphy said. “If he (Jimenez) did it, he did it. If he didn’t, the case is probably over” as far as the jury is concerned, Murphy said, referring to whether the government can prove what the FBI agent said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Carr, who had put Jimenez on the stand, said he took Jimenez’s comments to mean that Kern was caught on tape discussing vote buying, not agreeing to buy votes.

Murphy went to the court reporter and read back the exchange between Jimenez and Cook and said that the testimony as stated indicates that it was more than a discussion.

“What can the court do now? It’s out here. We’ve got a real problem here. I don’t know what to do,” Murphy said.

Kern, the former mayor of Belleville, was elected on Nov. 2 as St. Clair County Board chairman in a close race with Republican Steve Reeb. Reeb was winning the countywide race by 4,000 votes until East St. Louis votes were counted. There, Kern got about 85 percent of the vote and won the seat by 4,000 votes.

Jimenez is expected back on the stand when the trial resumes this afternoon.

The tape of Kern agreeing to buy votes has not yet been played in court.

Murphy heard Cook argue that Jimenez’s testimony about Kern should be stricken on the grounds it is untrue and it prejudiced the defense’s case.

Murphy denied Cook’s request.

“If he did, he did,” Murphy said of Kern’s alleged statement. “And if he didn’t, he didn’t. Then I would say the case is probably over.”

The trial of the five defendants began three weeks ago, and Murphy assured the jury the end was in sight.

“We are making progress,” the judge said. “We’re winding down the government’s case.”

Cook then tried to incriminate Republicans:

Cook pointed out that state election campaign disclosure reports show that Reeb, on the weekend before the Nov. 2 election, gave $10,000 to Riley Owens, a Centreville Republican.

Steve Reeb (who narrowly lost to Kern) and Owens denied they had bought votes with the $10,000, which came from the campaign warchest of Lloyd Karmeier, the successful GOP candidate for the Illinois Supreme Court.

Instead, the money was spent on getting out the vote legally in East St. Louis, Centreville and Canteen townships, Reeb and Owens said.

“He can’t paint me with that brush,” said Reeb, who is scheduled to testify Thursday as a defense witness.

Previous posts on the Democratic Voter Fraud Trial in East St. Louis:
East St. Louis makes Voter Fraud a Business
$5 for Non-Racists; Racists are $10
ESL Prosecution Witness Falters
Damning Tapes in East St. Louis Voter Fraud Trial
Witness Grilled at ESL Vote Fraud Trial
How to Buy Votes at ESL Vote Fraud Trial
“Showing Appreciation” at ESL Voter Fraud Trial
Democratic Vote Buyers May Get Pass

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