Former U.S. Senate candidate indicted on election fraud charges, prosecutor says
The candidate’s petition sheet indicated that she collected 5,619 signatures, but prosecutors say 4,576 were invalid.
CINCINNATI (WXIX) - A Tri-State woman who was running for U.S. Senate in 2021 was indicted on Thursday on election fraud charges, according to Hamilton County Prosecutor Melissa Powers.
Kelli Prather, 51, was indicted on four counts of prohibited acts with petitions, two counts of tampering with records, one count of election falsification and one count of false signatures, Powers said in a press release.
When Prather was running for U.S. Senate in 2021, she submitted several petitions to the Hamilton County Board of Elections to appear on the ballot, prosecutors say.
The candidate’s petition sheet indicated that she collected 5,619 signatures, but prosecutors say 4,576 were invalid. Of the 192 sheets filed, 74 did not have one valid signature, explained Powers.
According to the prosecutor’s office, the Board of Elections was able to find six signatures with addresses to abandoned buildings and some of the petitions filed had the same handwriting.
This is not the first time Prather has been accused of fraud.
In July, she was convicted on federal charges in a COVID-19 fraud scheme, according to U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Kenneth Parker.
The attorney says Prather applied for several Paycheck Protection Program loans for six businesses through the CARES Act. She also applied for eight Economic Injury Disaster loans, three of which were filed in November 2020.
In total, Prather received approximately $19,800 from the scheme.
Court documents say that she was also found guilty by a grand jury of bank fraud, wire fraud, making false statements on a loan application and identity theft.
On Oct. 18, U.S. District Court Judge Matthew McFarland granted Prather a psychiatric evaluation after she requested it, according to a mental health document.
If convicted of election fraud, she could face a maximum sentence of three years in prison.
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