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Nessel charges 3 in signature scandal that upended 2022 GOP race

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(The Center Square) – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced felony charges against three people accused of defrauding several political campaigns in the 2022 GOP gubernatorial election.

Shawn Wilmoth, Jamie Wilmoth-Goodin, and Willie Reed are charged with defrauding the 2022 gubernatorial campaigns of Perry Johnson, James Craig, Donna Brandenburg, Michael Brown, and Michael Markey, as well as judicial candidates Tricia Dare, John Cahalan, and John Michael Malone. Wilmoth and Reed are additionally charged with theft from the gubernatorial campaign of Ryan Kelley.

All the campaigns contracted with businesses owned and operated by Shawn Wilmoth and Reed to fulfill their nomination signatures to appear on the August 2022 primary ballots.

The state alleges the defendants charged the campaigns over $700,000 for valid signature collection, then knowingly delivered thousands of forged signatures on nomination petitions to eight of the campaigns. Seven of the candidates allegedly provided with fraudulent signatures were disqualified from appearing on the ballot, and one campaign withdrew. The defendants allegedly provided the Kelley campaign with no signatures.

“The signatures delivered to these campaigns were obvious forgeries,” Nessel said in a statement. “The methods these defendants used to disguise their fraud were sophomoric and transparent, and easily detected. But the crimes committed were serious criminal offenses that destroyed their clients’ campaign prospects and aimed to defraud the Bureau of Elections, all in service of a scheme to con these campaigns out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

The defendants are charged as follows:

Shawn Wilmoth, owner/operator of First Choice LLC and co-owner of Mack Douglas LLC.

One count of conducting a criminal enterprise, a 20-year felony.Eight counts, election law forgery, a five-year felony.Three counts of false pretenses, $100,000 or more, a 20-year felony.Two counts, false pretenses, $50,000 or more, a 15-year felony.Three counts, false pretenses, $20,000 or more, a 15-year felony.Eight counts, use of a computer to commit a crime, $20,000 or more, a 10-year felony.One count, use of a computer to commit a crime, $1,000 or more, a 5-year felony.One count, larceny by conversion, $1,000 or more, a 5-year felony.

Willie Reed, owner/operator of Petitions Reed LLC and co-owner of Mack Douglas LLC.

One count, conducting a criminal enterprise, a 20-year felony.Eight counts, election law forgery, a 5-year felony.Three counts, false pretenses, $100,000 or more, a 20-year felony.Two counts, false pretenses, $50,000 or more, a 15-year felony.Three counts, false pretenses, $20,000 or more, a 15-year felony.Eight counts, use of a computer to commit a crime, $20,000 or more, a 10-year felony.One count, use of a computer to commit a crime, $1,000 or more, a 5-year felony.One count, larceny by conversion, $1,000 or more, a 5-year felony.

Jamie Wilmoth-Goodin.

One count, conducting a criminal enterprise, a 20-year felony.Eight counts, election law forgery, a 5-year felony.Three counts, false pretenses, $100,000 or more, a 20-year felony.Two counts, false pretenses, $50,000 or more, a 15-year felony.Three counts, false pretenses, $20,000 or more, a 15-year felony.Eight counts, use of a computer to commit a crime, $20,000 or more, a 10-year felony.

The state election office quickly detected the forgeries and determined the seven campaigns of Johnson, Craig, Brandenburg, Brown, Markey, Dare, and Malone failed to qualify for the 2022 primary ballot. The Department of State referred the matter to Nessel’s office for investigation in June 2022.

Nessel said the fraud caused half of the Republican field for governor to be disqualified.

“Our democracy suffers when the voters are denied the opportunity to evaluate candidates they may have wished to support on election day,” Nessel said.

Wilmoth and Wilmoth-Goodin were arrested on Wednesday, June 21, and await arraignment. Reed is believed to be outside the state of Michigan.

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