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Former Amite police chief, current city council member plead guilty in vote-buying case

2 weeks 6 days 2 hours ago Thursday, July 21 2022 Jul 21, 2022 July 21, 2022 4:21 PM July 21, 2022 in News
Source: WBRZ

AMITE - Two Amite city officials pled guilty to violating federal election laws by trying to pay for votes during their respective elections. 

Former Amite Police Chief Jerry Trabona, 72, and current Amite City Council Member Kristian Hart, 49, offered to pay Tangipahoa residents to vote in the primary and general elections.

Hart also pled guilty to three counts of offering to pay people in the 2016 and 2020 elections. He was running for her seat on the Amite City Council in both elections.

“We must have fair elections, free from the taint of corruption, to ensure a fully functional government,” U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans said.

Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin released the following statement Thursday:

“While this case against Trabona and Hart began as a result of a federal investigation, it was aided substantially by the efforts of the investigators in Louisiana’s Elections Compliance Unit (ECU), as a result of our official review of Emmanuel Zanders III following the 2020 federal election. Our investigators were alerted to Mr. Zanders’ activities by the Tangipahoa Registrar of Voters, and we quickly developed information that led to his arrest and a guilty plea deal that mandated his resignation from the Amite City Council in January of 2021. I remain committed to keeping Louisiana free of corruption in the voting process and ensuring that our elections are fair, safe, accurate and free of disruption by corrupt actors.”

Trabona and Hart are expected to be sentenced on Nov. 1 and face up to five years in prison on each count.

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