Tags: indiana | acorn | rico

Indiana: Charge ACORN with RICO

Wednesday, 29 Oct 2008 10:37 AM

By Jim Meyers

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Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita said his office has found evidence of “multiple criminal violations,” possibly involving state and federal racketeering laws, in connection with fraudulent voter registration applications.

Rokita, Indiana’s top election official, sent a letter last week to U.S. Attorney David Capp and Michael Welch, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis office, presenting the findings and requesting prosecution.

The letter also went to Bernard Carter, prosecutor in Lake County, Ind., where the probe turned up more than 1,400 fraudulent applications.

The allegations are aimed at the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), which is being investigated for similar issues in more than 10 other states, the Indianapolis Star reported.

ACORN officials have confirmed that the group submitted hundreds of potentially bogus registration applications earlier in October. The officials maintain that they are required by law to submit all applications they collect, and claim the organization was the victim of unscrupulous employees who collected the applications in Lake County.

But Rokita states in his letter that “complying with the law to submit legitimate applications does not allow ACORN officials to evade the law against knowingly submitting fraudulent applications.”

Submitting fraudulent applications is a Class D felony, according to the Star.

Rokita disclosed that a preliminary investigation indicated ACORN “violated Indiana’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law.”

He also wrote that the organization and its officers and employees “violated Indiana election laws with respect to the solicitation, completion and submission of incomplete, forged or fraudulent voter registration applications, and “with respect to the submission of multiple voter registration applications for the same person.”

Mary Hatton, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Hammond, Ind. declined comment, as did FBI spokeswoman Wendy Osborne, according to the Northwest Indiana Post-Tribune.

In a statement, Deputy Attorney General Rich Bramer said the office is ready to assist any investigation opened by local or federal officials.

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