Senior Indiana official convicted of perjury, fraud
NOBLESVILLE, Indiana |
NOBLESVILLE, Indiana (Reuters) - A jury early on Saturday convicted Indiana's Republican Secretary of State Charlie White on six felony counts including perjury, theft and voter fraud but cleared him on a seventh charge.
Under Indiana law, any public officer convicted of a felony must be removed from office. White's conviction was expected to spur efforts by Democrats to have him replaced as secretary of state by the man he defeated in 2010, Vop Osili.
The jury reached its verdict at 2:28 a.m. local time after deliberating for about 12 hours. The jurors acquitted White of fraud on a financial institution.
White, 42, was indicted last year on seven counts stemming in part from accusations that he lied about his home address while serving on the Fishers Town Council so that he could retain a stipend.
Council members are elected to represent a district and must resign if they leave that area.
White had maintained he was living in the basement of his former wife's home within the district he represented. Prosecutors introduced documents they said told a different story - that he lived outside the district with his fiancée.
State law requires Republican Governor Mitch Daniels to appoint a new secretary of state if White resigns or is removed from office following a felony conviction.
White, an attorney and a former chairman of the Republican Party in Hamilton County, has remained secretary of state despite the criminal indictment and civil lawsuits that have challenged the validity of his election to state office.
Prosecutors submitted document after document, including cellular telephone records, in seeking to prove White deceived people while serving on the council.
The seven-count indictment contended that White lied on his marriage license application and on an application to vote in a special election.
Using his former wife's address allowed White to retain a $1,000-a-month stipend for his council seat and continue to pursue his political ambitions, prosecutors said.
White's defense attorney, former Marion County prosecutor Carl Brizzi, said White worked hard as a town council member, none of his votes were voided, and questioned whether White was a target of an overzealous prosecution.
Brizzi dismissed the cell phone records as not providing a precise location of where White was calling from and said the state's case was based on assumptions and innuendo. The defense called no witnesses to testify on White's behalf.
White is a former chairman of the Republican Party in Hamilton County. He has remained secretary of state despite the criminal indictment and civil lawsuits that have challenged the validity of his election to state office.
Separately, a Marion County judge in December ruled that White was not eligible to run for secretary of state in 2010 because he was not properly registered at his own address. White has been allowed to stay in office while he appeals that ruling.
The Marion County judge ruled that the Democrat White defeated by more than 340,000 votes in 2010, Vop Osili, should be declared the winner of the election.
No date was set for sentencing.
(Editing by David Bailey and Will Dunham)
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