Two former staffers of ex-U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter are expected to be sentenced in Wayne County Circuit Court on Jan. 18, 2013.
Don Yowchuang, McCotter’s 33-year-old former deputy district director from Farmington Hills, entered a no contest plea yesterday, Tuesday, Nov. 27 in Wayne County Circuit Court on charges of forgery (10 counts) and falsely signing a nominating petition (six counts).
The forgery felony charge comes with a maximum penalty of five years in prison, while the charge of falsely signing a nomination petition carries with it a maximum of 93 days in jail.
McCotter’s former district director Paul Seewald, a 47-year-old from Livonia, pleaded guilty to nine counts of falsely signing a nominating petition as circulator.
Both men also face a charge of conspiracy to commit a legal act in an illegal manner, a 5-year felony. That charge is pending, and Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Margie Braxton is scheduled to hear a motion by Yowchuang and Seewald to dismiss the charge on Jan. 9, 2013.
Yowchuang and Seewald are just two of the four former staff members for McCotter — who resigned from office in July — convicted of or facing charges in the petition signature scandal that brought down the former five-term congressman from Livonia who has represent most of lakes area.
Mary Melissa Turnbull, McCotter’s 58-year-old former district representative, faces one charge of conspiracy to commit a legal act in an illegal manner, and one charge of falsely signing a nominating petition as circulator.
Turnbull is next due in court for a pre-trial hearing on Jan. 8, 2013.
Lorianne O’Brady, 52, of Livonia, pleaded no contest in September to five counts of falsely signing a nominating petition as circulator and was subsequently sentenced to 20 days in a work-release program and 18 months of probation. She was also ordered to pay over $2,600 in fines and court costs.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, who announced both men’s pleas yesterday, said his office will oppose that motion in court.
“As Attorney General, I have a responsibility to enforce the law and ensure public integrity,” Schuette stated in a press release. “After a thorough investigation, my office determined that criminal acts were committed, and the appropriate criminal charges were filed. We will continue to prosecute those involved with this disgraceful violation of the public trust.”
The election fraud scheme uncovered in May effectively brought to an abrupt and surprising end McCotter’s political career after irregularities in petition signatures were discovered in May by staff in Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s office.
It was revealed just a few hundred of the more than 1,000 nominating petition signatures McCotter’s team turned in to get him on the Aug. 7 primary election ballot were falsified or fraudulent. Schuette announced charges against the four staffers in August.
McCotter has not been accused of anything illegal.
U.S. Rep. David Curson (D-Waterford, White Lake, Highland, Milford, Commerce, Wolverine Lake, Walled, Wixom) is serving out the remaining weeks of McCotter’s unexpired term in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Milford Republican Kerry Bentivolio will represent the new 11th Congressional District — which includes Waterford, West Bloomfield, White Lake, Commerce, Wolverine Lake, Walled Lake, Wixom, Milford, White Lake, and Highland — in the 113th Congress.
U.S. representatives serve two-year terms and are currently paid $174,000 annually.