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November 30, 2022

Former Amite Police Chief, City Councilmember, and Additional Co-Conspirator Sentenced in Vote Buying Conspiracy

Former Amite Police Chief Jerry Trabona (age 73) and former Amite Councilmember  Kristian “Kris” Hart (age 50) were each sentenced Tuesday (November 29, 2022) to one year in prison for violating federal election laws as part of a conspiracy to pay, or offer to pay, voters for voting in a federal election. Trabona was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine. Today (November 30, 2022), Sidney Smith (age 69), 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 Hart agreed with each other and others to pay or offer to pay voters residing 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 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.

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