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Posted at 5:32 PM ET, 02/17/2011

Guilty plea in Arlington voter fraud case

By Washington Post Editors

Christy Goodman reports in the Virginia Politics blog that William Cockerham pleaded guilty to voter fraud Wednesday in Arlington Circuit court.

Cockerham and Cheryl Simmons were indicted in December for voter fraud. Both were hired to collect petition signatures in a failed effort to change Arlington's form of government.

Virginia law requires that each signature collected is witnessed by a person who can vote or register to vote. Cockerham signed off on petitions that he did not circulate and is a convicted felon, making him ineligible to vote in Virginia, said Richard E. Trodden, the commonwealth's attorney, in his proffer of evidence.

Cockerham was hired by Shawn Wilmoth, president of Signature Masters, who was contracted to train local residents to collect 12,000 signatures. Cockerham agreed to be paid $2 per signature. Cockerham went with Wilmoth to notarize 58 petition pages June 28, Trodden said.

"Approximately four of these sheets contained voter signatures that the defendant had obtained himself. Some were circulated by other persons at the same locations as the defendant. A large number of the remaining pages, however, had been given to him by Wilmoth. The defendant had not witnessed voters sign those petitions," Trodden said.

Cockerham also was convicted of a felony, attempted distribution of heroin, in the District in 2008, he said.

He will be sentenced May 20. Simmons is due in court March 15.

By Washington Post Editors  | February 17, 2011; 5:32 PM ET
Categories:  Arlington, Cons & Scams, Politics  
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