Not guilty pleas were entered today on behalf of three former staff members accused of forging or falsifying signatures on nominating petitions for former Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter.
McCotter's former deputy district director Don Yowchuang and district director Paul Seewald appeared in court in Livonia for arraignment. Both are free on $50,000 personal bond.
Mary Turnbull was a district representative for McCotter in Howell. She appeared this morning in Troy district court and was released on $5,000 bond.
A fourth McCotter staffer also charged with election fraud named Lorianne O'Brady was not scheduled to appear in court this morning.
State elections officials say McCotter's campaign submitted petition signatures full of obvious duplication and irregularities. The campaign submitted more than 1,800 signatures, but only 244 were deemed valid.
According to Attorney General Bill Schuette's website, the investigation lasted ten weeks including 75 witness interviews, procuring sworn statements from nine people, and reviewing thousands of records.
Schuette said the McCotter campaign likely did the same thing in the 2008 elections.
Yesterday, Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reported Schuette says there’s no evidence McCotter was aware of their schemes, but if such evidence emerges, he said won’t hesitate to “pull the trigger and file new charges.”
In a press advisory released yesterday, McCotter said,
"I thank the Attorney General and his office for their earnest, thorough work on this investigation, which I requested, and their subsequent report.For my family and I, this closure commences our embrace of the enduring blessings of private life."
Click here to see the Detroit Free Press' infographic on the forged election petitions.
-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom