East Baton Rouge Parish district attorney opens probe into forgeries on St. George petition

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BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — The East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney's Office has opened an official investigation into forgeries on the petition to incorporate the proposed city of St. George.

Hillar Moore III tells The Advocate (http://bit.ly/1c3xrfA ) St. George organizers reported that the people accused of the forgeries were hired by private firms retained by the group to boost the petition effort.

Moore said Monday that he received a phone call last week from Ronald Cain, who filed a formal complaint about the forging of his name on the petition.

The St. George petition required 17,859 signatures, and the group submitted more than 18,000 signatures in October. Only 15,165 were considered valid by the Registrar of Voters Office, which finished verifying the petition last week. The petition drive is likely the largest in state history. St. George officials have until the end of May to collect the 2,694 signatures needed to close the gap and thus allow an election to proceed. Otherwise, the petition would be voided.

Moore said he will soon reach out to the Secretary of State's Office asking that it consider formally investigating possible election code violations in conjunction with his office.

He said his office also will determine whether there are possible criminal charges.

Meg Casper, spokeswoman for the Secretary of State's Office, said the issue doesn't fall under their jurisdiction until an election is called, but "if he asks our office for some specific assistance, we could certainly work cooperatively if necessary."

The sanctions, depending on whether they are election code violations or criminal, max out at five years' jail time and a $5,000 fine.


Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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