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Indiana secretary of state convicted of voter fraud

February 4, 2012 |  1:17 pm

After deliberating for 12 hours, an Indiana jury early Saturday morning found the state's top elections official, Charlie White, guilty of six of seven felony charges related to voter fraud.

White, who was elected Indiana's secretary of state in 2010, had been accused -- among other things -- of lying about his address on voter registration forms. He was indicted in March, two months after being sworn into office.

As the case unwound, White kept his post.  

The indictment alleged that White was living outside of the district of the Fishers Town Council where he served and continued drawing a salary. It also accused him of voting in the wrong district during the May 2010 primary.

Around 2 a.m. Saturday, the Hamilton County jury convicted White of false registration, voting in another precinct, submitting a false ballot, theft and two counts of perjury. The theft charge stems from the salary he received while living outside the district. He was acquitted on a more serious fraud charge, the Associated Press reported.

About an hour after the conviction, Gov. Mitch Daniels appointed Jerry Bonnet as interim secretary of state. 

"I have chosen not to make a permanent appointment today out of respect for the judge’s authority to lessen the verdict to a misdemeanor and reinstate the elected office holder," Daniels said in a statement. "If the felony convictions are not altered, I anticipate making a permanent appointment quickly."

Prosecutors argued that White used his ex-wife's address instead of a condo he had with his fiancee because he didn't want to give up his $1,000-per-month Fishers Town Council salary after moving out of that district, the Associated Press said.

White, 42, has said the charges ignored a complicated personal life in which he was trying to raise his 10-year-old son, plan his second marriage and campaign for the statewide office he won that November. He said he stayed at his ex-wife's house when he wasn't on the road campaigning and did not live in the condo until after he remarried.

A date has not yet been set for sentencing. White's lawyers, however, have indicated they will attempt to reduce to the felony convictions to misdemeanors.


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Photo: Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White, shown in a file photo, listens to a question during an Indiana Recount Commission hearing in Indianapolis. Credit: Darron Cummings/Associated Press