Former chief, councilmember & others sentenced in vote buying conspiracy

A former police chief in Amite City, Louisiana and an Amite City councilmember were each sentenced Nov. 29th to one year in prison for a vote buying conspiracy. Officials say they violated federal election laws as part of a conspiracy to pay, or offer to pay, voters for voting in a federal election.

In addition to the prison sentence, former police chief Jerry Trabona, 73, was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.

Today, an additional co-conspirator was sentenced to four months in prison for his role in the scheme.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Trabona and Kristian “Kris” Hart, 50, an Amite City councilmember, agreed with each other and others to pay or offer to pay voters living in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, for voting during the 2016 Open Primary Election and the 2016 Open General Election, contests in which Trabona and Hart were candidates.

Trabona and Hart’s vote buying scheme included the solicitation and hiring of individuals responsible for identifying potential voters, the transportation of those voters to the polls, and payment and offer of payment to the voters for voting. In the 2016
election, co-conspirator Sidney Smith, 69, of Amite City, paid voters with money provided by Trabona and Hart.

Two other Louisiana men, who previously pleaded guilty for their involvement in the vote buying
scheme, Calvin Batiste and Louis Ruffino, will be sentenced at a later date.


Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, and Special Agent in Charge Douglas Williams of the FBI New Orleans Field Office made the announcement.

The FBI New Orleans Field Office investigated the case.

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