Ugly Politics, Ugly Trial in ESL

Lawyers opened their defense against government charges on Thursday. Five Democratic committeemen are on trial for federal election fraud in East St. Louis.

This voter fraud story broke last year shortly after the November 2nd election. In December five individuals pleaded guilty for charges of voter fraud in East St. Louis. At least one of the individuals (Sandra Stith) plea bargained for a reduced sentence by agreeing to testify in this trial against the 5 Democrats currently on trial. But, her testimony fell apart as she stumbled in the cross examination earlier this month.

The story really took off in January when one of the defendents, Kelvin Ellis, was also charged with attempted murder for planning to “get rid of” a federal witness. Ellis, who previously served time in prison 14 years ago for federal extortion charges, was a high ranking official in East St. Louis politics and city government.

Back in January, after the city, county, state, and country were aware that there were charges of voter fraud in East St. Louis (along with one count of attempted murder yet to be prosecuted) a federal witness in East St. Louis, Rudy McKintosh, found out that he was going to lose his job. Evidently, the police in East St. Louis had decided to start their own investigation on the federal witness and discovered he had lied on his resume many years prior and was let go from his job. Thursday the defense continued the attack on McIntosh.

* Also, since his cooperation with the FBI became public, Rudy McIntosh has been implicated in a 1979 murder case at a skating rink. *

* In April the city’s fire and police board fired McIntosh for falsifying his application. McIntosh is appealing that decision on the grounds he was fired in retaliation for his role as a government witness. *

* $76,150 was reportedly paid to 51 individuals living in East St. Louis days before the 2004 election. *

Detective Ricky Perry of the East St. Louis Police Department testified that in January, he and another city police detective knocked on the door of an apartment at 560 N. 29th St. where McIntosh, the city’s then-deputy police chief, was living.

The detectives were there to inform McIntosh of a probe into whether McIntosh had lied on his job application about possessing a certificate of general educational development, or GED.

But no one answered the door and the two detectives drove away.

Only a few minutes later, though, Perry received a call on his cell phone from FBI special agent John Jimenez, who was overseeing the election fraud probe for which McIntosh had served as a key informant.

Jimenez had asked him whether he had visited McIntosh’s apartment, Perry testified.

“I said, ‘Yes,'” Perry said, adding that Jimenez “advised me that I was tampering with a federal witness.”

The internal affairs probe moved forward anyway, resulting in McIntosh’s firing from the department in April.

Perry’s testimony contradicted Jimenez’s statements Thursday morning.

“Did you tell Detective Perry he was tampering with a federal witness?” asked John O’Gara, the lawyer for defendant Kelvin Ellis.

“No, I didn’t do that,” Jimenez said. “I can’t think of a reason why I would do that.”

Jimenez spoke a few hours before Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Carr rested the government’s case against Ellis and co-defendants Charles Powell — the city’s Democratic Party boss — Jessie Lewis, Sheila Thomas and Yvette Johnson. The five are charged with taking part and carrying out a vote-buying scheme in the Nov. 2 election.

The defense is wanting to show that the Republicans were at fault as well, the “two wrongs make a right” defense. The Republicans vehemently deny these charges:

U.S. District Judge G. Patrick Murphy excused Steve Reeb, a Republican member of the St. Clair County Board, from testifying.

The judge’s reason: Reeb, who had narrowly lost to Kern in the County Board chairman race in November, had accidentally been allowed to hear some witness testimony earlier in the trial — a breach of court procedure.

As a back-up, Cook plans on calling call Steve McGlynn, the former St. Clair County and state Republican Party leader, to testify today about county voting patterns.

Also excused from testifying Thursday was prosecution witness Carlos Hood, a Powell election worker. Under questioning by Murphy, and with the jury out of the courtroom, Hood said he had been “coerced” into making certain statements that had appeared in an FBI field report.

“Do you disavow it?” Murphy asked.

“Yes, I do,” Hood replied.

Since the trial began May 31, the government has provided little evidence directly tying the defendants to a conspiracy to buy votes in the Nov. 2 election — despite the many hours of witness testimony and the repeated playing of audio-tapes that McIntosh and fellow undercover informant Dannita Youngblood had secretly made.

The only witnesses who said they had received money for their votes were Kessy and Emmett Stewart, a married couple who testified that after voting on Nov. 2 they had received $7 from a Powell campaign worker.

Carr spent much of his time trying to shore up the credibility of Youngblood, McIntosh and Jimenez.

The trial opens at 8:00 AM today and is scheduled to wrap up on Tuesday.

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
ESL Vote Fraud Trial Gets Nasty

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