Jim Suhr, AP, June 30
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. — A federal jury Wednesday convicted the head of this city’s Democratic Party and four others of scheming to buy votes with cash, cigarettes and liquor last November to try to get key Democrats elected.
Jurors in the monthlong trial deliberated more than five hours before convicting local Democratic Party chairman Charles Powell Jr., 61, and Kelvin Ellis, 55, the city’s former director of regulatory affairs, of felony conspiracy to commit vote fraud. Also convicted were Democratic precinct committee members Sheila Thomas, 31, and Jesse Lewis, 56, and City Hall worker Yvette Johnson, 46.
Ellis, Thomas, Lewis and Johnson also were convicted of one count apiece of election fraud for allegedly paying at least one person to vote — or offering to do so. Powell was never charged with that count.