One former staff member to ex-U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter has been sentenced and two others have been bound over to Wayne County Circuit Court for trial on charges in the petition signature scandal that torpedoed the political career of the former five-term Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Lorianne O’Brady, a 52-year-old former McCotter scheduler from Livonia, was ordered on Thursday, Oct. 25 to participate in a work-release program for 20 days after pleading no contest last month to five charges of falsely signing a nominating petition as circulator.
O’Brady, was also placed on probation for 18 months and ordered to pay $1,385 in fines and costs, according to staff in the 16th District Court in Livonia.
Two others — Don Yowchuang, the 33-year-old former deputy district director from Farmington Hills and Paul Seewald, 47, a former district director for McCotter from Livonia — have been bound over to Wayne County Circuit Court to face trial.
A $50,000 personal bond was set for both Yowchuang and Seewald, staff said. They are next scheduled for an arraignment on information on Tuesday, Nov. 6, in the Wayne County Circuit Court.
Yowchuang faces 10 counts of election fraud forgery, a five-year felony; one count of conspiracy to commit a legal act in an illegal manner, a five-year felony; and six counts of falsely signing a nominating petition as circulator, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail.
Seewald faces one count of conspiracy to commit a legal act in an illegal manner and nine counts of falsely signing a nominating petition.
Mary Melissa Turnbull, a 58-year-old former district representative from Howell, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit a legal act in an illegal manner, and one count of falsely signing a nominating petition as circulator.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced the charges against the four former McCotter staffers following an investigation prompted by questions raised by the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office after it was revealed just a few hundred of the more than 1,000 signatures McCotter’s team turned in to get him on the Aug. 7 primary election ballot were falsified or fraudulent.
That triggered a snowball effect which eventually led McCotter, who made an ill-fated run for the presidency last year, to resign from his seat, forcing state officials to call a Sept. 5 special primary election that cost the state and local units of government about $650,000.
Milford Republican Kerry Bentivolio won both the Aug. 7 primary election and the Sept. 5 special primary election handily; he now faces Canton Township Democrat Dr. Syed Taj in the Nov. 6 general election and Belleville Democrat David A. Curson in Tuesday’s special general election, held in conjunction with the regular general election.
The special general election will decide who fills the remaining weeks of McCotter’s current term in the U.S. House of Representatives, which ends on Jan. 2; while the race between Bentivolio and Taj will determine who gets a two-year term in Congress that pays $174,000 annually.