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Former Louisiana police chief, council member sentenced to prison

The Justice Department announced prison sentences for a former Louisiana police chief, city council member and another co-conspirator for violating election laws. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI
The Justice Department announced prison sentences for a former Louisiana police chief, city council member and another co-conspirator for violating election laws. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 30 (UPI) -- The Justice Department announced Wednesday prison sentences for a former Louisiana police chief, city council member and another co-conspirator for violating election laws Wednesday.

Jerry Trabona, 73, the former chief of police for the Amite City department, and Kristian Hart, 50, an Amite City council member were accused of buying votes in the 2016 primary election and following general election.

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Both were candidates in the election. They focused their bribery efforts on the Tangipahoa Parish in the southeast corner of the state in which Amite City is situated.

The conspiracy involved soliciting and hiring people to find potential voters, offering them payment for their votes and driving them to polling places.

Trabona and Hart were sentenced to one year in prison Tuesday. Trabona also was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.

The pair pleaded guilty to criminally violating federal election laws as part of a conspiracy to pay, or offer to pay, voters for voting in a federal election in July.

According to the FBI New Orleans Field Office, which investigated the case, Trabona and Hart pleaded guilty to doing this in the 2016 and 2020 election cycles.

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The maximum sentence for their crimes was five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

A third co-conspirator, Sidney Smith, 69, was sentenced Wednesday for paying voters with money given to him by Trabona and Hart. Two more co-conspirators, Calvin Batiste and Louis Ruffino, await sentencing hearings.

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