Friday, April 19, 2024

Ex-staffer pleads to lesser charges in election fraud case

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — A former congressional campaign staffer has pleaded guilty to woeful neglect of election duties in an election fraud case that clouded the race for Virginia’s 2nd District in 2018.

WAVY-TV reports that Lauren Peabody, formerly Lauren Creekmore, pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor on Tuesday. She was given a suspended sentence of 12 months and a $1,000 fine.

Peabody worked on the doomed re-election campaign for freshman Republican Congressman Scott Taylor. Democrat Elaine Luria ultimately won the seat along Virginia’s coast.

Peabody was among Taylor campaign staffers accused of trying to place a third-party “spoiler candidate” on the November ballot. The strategy involved gathering signatures and was widely viewed as an effort to draw votes away from Luria.

Prosecutors said Peabody signed affidavits swearing that she witnessed the signatures. But it was determined that Peabody did not witness the signings of two petitions she submitted. They were circulated by another staffer.

Peabody was originally indicted on felony election fraud charges. Her attorney, John Fletcher, said that she plead to a misdemeanor that “does not involve fraud, dishonesty or corrupt conduct.”

Prosecutors say they’re also investigating allegations of signature forging involving the Taylor campaign.

Taylor has maintained that he was never involved in any wrongdoing. He is running again for his former congressional seat.

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