CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters has announced the indictment of a Montgomery man for voter fraud.
Walter Sullivan, 27, is charged with five counts of filing false signatures for allegedly forging applications for absentee ballots. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.
Sullivan was employed as a field worker for Field Works, a consulting group based in Washington, D.C. that provides ground level organization for Ohio Jobs and Growth.
Ohio Jobs and Growth is the organization backing Issue 3 in Hamilton County. The issue would authorize casinos in Toledo, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus.
"Our investigation at no time found any evidence that Ohio Jobs and Growth was involved or aware of criminal activity," said Deters. "They at all times acted cooperatively with the investigation. Any representation that they were the target of a grand jury investigation is entirely false."
Deters says Sullivan forged fabsentee ballot applications between Sept. 29 and Oct. 1, sending them to the Hamilton County Board of Elections in an attempt to secure absentee ballots.
The Board of Elections then noticed the irregularities when processing applications and contacted some of the voters whose signatures were purported to be on the applications. The voters confirmed they had not requested a ballot or directed anyone else to do so on their behalf.
Deters said that Sullivan submitted the applications to impress his boss and wasn't intending to stuff the box.
"I guess he wanted to look like he was busy," Deters said. "The problem is the right to vote in this country is sacred, and the methods by which we register and vote are sacred."
Deters indicated that a plea agreement could be in the works. But defense attorney Mike Allen said it was premature to comment.
"At the appropriate time, he will answer the charges," Allen said of Sullivan.
A spokesman for Ohio Jobs and Growth said the grand jury action confirms that the committee had no role.
"The one person who was indicted this morning is the person that our campaign helped identify and is the one employee who was fired immediately when this situation came to light," spokesman Bob Tenenbaum said. "As far as we're concerned, the action of the grand jury verifies what we said from the very beginning, that this was isolated, that the campaign committee had no idea what was going on."
Jobs and Growth is pushing the Nov. 3 ballot issue to authorize casinos in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus and Toledo.
Deters said there was no connection between the Hamilton County case and recent instances of suspicious absentee applications in Franklin County.