Powell sentenced to 21 months in prison for vote buying

Steve Gonzalez Feb. 28, 2006, 10:39am

Former East St. Louis City Council member and chairman of the East St. Louis Democratic Party Charles Powell Jr., 61, was sentenced tto 21 months in prison for conspiring to buy votes.

U.S. District Judge G. Patrick Murphy issued the sentence and also fined Powell $2,500 and ordered Powell to two years of supervised release after he serves his sentence. Murphy also handed down a $100 "special assessment" fine.

In June 2005, following a 17-day jury trial, Powell was convicted of one count of conspiring with others to buy votes.

Assistant U.S. attorneys Michael C. Carr and James M. Cutchin, who prosecuted Powell, presented evidence that showed that he and certain other Democratic precinct committeemen conspired with each other and with other precinct workers to pay voters for voting in the November 2004 election in amounts ranging from $5 to $10 per vote.

Murphy had already sentenced Powell's four co-defendants -- Kelvin Ellis, Yvette Johnson, Sheila Thomas and Jesse Lewis for their roles in the conspiracy.

The evidence presented also showed that Powell used three precinct committeemen meetings in October 2004, to instruct East St. Louis' Democratic precinct committeemen to use money obtained from the St. Clair County Democratic Party to pay voters for voting in the election.

The evidence showed that the three races that the conspirators were attempting to influence were the races for U.S. president, Illinois Supreme Court justice, and St. Clair County Board of Commissioners chairman.

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