Politics & Government
3:10 pm
Tue November 27, 2012

McCotter aides enter pleas in petition fraud case

Two campaign staffers of former U.S. Representative Thaddeus McCotter have entered pleas on charges connected to the petition fraud scandal that forced the congressman’s resignation.

From the Detroit News:

McCotter's former deputy district director, Don Yowchuang, and a high school classmate of McCotter's, Paul Seewald, entered the pleas Tuesday before Wayne Circuit Court Judge Margie R. Braxton.

Yowchuang, 33, pleaded no contest to 10 felony counts and five misdemeanor charges.

Seewald pleaded guilty to nine misdemeanor counts for falsely signing petitions as a circulator. The 47-year-old faces up to 93 days in jail.

Braxton will sentence the pair Jan. 18.

Yowchuang faces up to five years in prison on the felony counts. The misdemeanor charges carry a penalty of up to 93 days in jail.

The scandal broke in May when election officials discovered that only ten percent of petition signatures filed by McCotter were valid.

In a statement to authorities, Yowchuang admitted to copying up to 15 petitions in an attempt to meet a 2,000 signature maximum before the filing deadline.

From the Detroit Free Press:

When volunteers brought in petitions that were about 200 short of 2,000, Yowchaung said, "I panicked. I pulled out some of the ones they had brought me ... and photocopied about 13-15 pages."

And it wasn't the first time, Yowchuang said in his statement. "In 2008, we did the same type of thing."

Yowchuang described McCotter as a demanding boss, who often berated his employees.

"Just like any guy, he had a guy temper," Yowchuang said in his statement.

McCotter testified in October, saying that his aides repeatedly told him he had enough signatures to run.

A third campaign staffer, Lorraine O'Brady, has been sentenced with probation and community service in connection with the case.

- Jordan Wyant, Michigan Radio Newsroom