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Head of Signature Collection Firm Pleads Guilty

by ARLnow.com — September 20, 2011 at 3:13 pm 1,882 7 Comments

A political strategist whose firm was hired to help a ballot initiative in Arlington has pleaded guilty to two counts of election fraud.

Shawn D. Wilmoth was the president of Signature Masters, the company paid to collect signatures for the 2010 petition drive that sought to change Arlington County’s form of government. The initiative, which failed due to an insufficient number of valid signatures, was sponsored by Arlington’s police and fire unions and supported by the local Republican and Green parties.

Wilmoth was arrested this past April in Michigan and accused of instructing employees to fraudulently sign petition pages. He was extradited to Arlington in May and has been held without bond since. Today, Wilmoth pleaded guilty. A statement of facts entered as part of the plea reveals that Wilmoth hired two ex-cons, who were ineligible to collect petition signatures under state law, and asked them to not only collect signatures but to sign as a witness on dozens of petition sheets filled with signatures they did not collect.

As part of the plea deal, Wilmoth was given two concurrent 5 year sentences, with 4 years and 8 months suspended on the condition of good behavior and repayment of court and extradition costs, according to Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Andy Parker. Wilmoth was also sentenced to 3 years of supervised probation. Parker said he would likely be released from jail today after being credited with time served.

The two ex-cons hired by Wilmoth, Cheryl Simmons and William Cockerham, both pleaded guilty to voter fraud earlier this year.

  • http://blacknell.net/dynamic/ MB

    Any indication as to whether this was the end of the line for this matter?

    • http://www.arlnow.com ARLnow.com

      If you’re asking whether prosecutors volunteered information about possible future indictments, the answer is no.

      • Thes

        So we don’t know what’s going to happen to Dena Kozanas or Michael Pepe?

  • Thes

    A well-deserved sentence.

  • Anonymous

    I remember these guys. I saw a man at the Wash Blvd Giant collecting signatures for something relating to changing the form of county government. I declined to sign seeing as they were collecting social security numbers on the form. In addition to the SSNs, the thing that stuck out in my head was the “activist” was using a worn piece of corrugated cardboard as his clip board. I assumed it was an identity theft thing so I called the cops once I got home to file a report. I didn’t realize it was actual voter fraud…

  • A. Capone

    What’s up with reporting of criminal cases? Is this something new from the prosecutor’s office or something new being done by Arlnow?

    Whatever the change, I like it. I have lived here 20 years and am baffled by the silence from the prosecutor’s office.

    • http://www.arlnow.com ARLnow.com

      It’s a bit of both.

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