10 to face voter fraud charges in N.D.

Sept. 5, 2012 at 5:40 PM
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BISMARCK, N.D., Sept. 5 (UPI) -- Prosecutors in North Dakota said Wednesday a decision was made not to charge one of 11 people, mostly college football players, suspected of voter fraud.

The North Dakota attorney general's office said the Cass County state's attorney's office decided to use "prosecutorial discretion" and not charge Lane O'Brien, whose name was on a list released Tuesday of those expected to be charged for their alleged roles in the submission of illegal petitions on behalf of two ballot initiatives.

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead reported the statement said formal misdemeanor charges against the others were expected in a day or so.

The newspaper reported Tuesday eight North Dakota State University football players and one former player were among the 10 people suspected of fraud in attempts to place two measures on this fall's general election ballot.

"We're extremely disappointed that this alleged fraud occurred," said Stephen Adair, chairman of a committee pushing for a constitutional amendment that would create a land and water conservation fund.

"We had no desires to be on the ballot in any other than a pure and honest way."

Steven Zaiser, who heads a committee trying to get a medical marijuana measure on the ballot, said Tuesday he was disappointed that two years of work to put the issue before voters had been derailed.

NDSU Coach Craig Bohl, whose 2011 team won the FCS national championship, said he will let the legal process play out for players Aireal Boyd, Josh Colville, Demetrius Gray, Samuel Ojuri, Brendin Pierre, Antonio Rodgers, Bryan Shepherd and Marcus Williams.

Only Gray, a red-shirt freshman, will not travel to the team's game at Colorado State Saturday.

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Secretary of State Al Jaeger included the players, along with Jennifer Krahn and Josh Gatlin, on the list of individuals they expect to charge with facilitation of voter fraud or filing a false statement.

People who circulate petitions are required to sign an affidavit stating they witnessed all the signatures and that they are genuine. A North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation probe found some statements submitted to the state were incorrect and many people whose signatures appeared on the petitions had not signed them.

Investigators discovered forged signature names allegedly were lifted from telephone directories and cellphone contact lists of the circulators, while others were fictitious.

Both ballot measures fell short of the number of signatures needed because of the tainted petitions, The Forum said. The marijuana initiative fell more than 900 signatures short of the 13,452 needed after having submitted 20,092, while the conservation amendment fell 7,938 short of the 26,904 needed after 37,785 were submitted, the newspaper said.

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