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Election code violations against Bullskin supervisors waived to county court

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Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, 3:48 p.m.
 

Charges against three Bullskin Township supervisors accused of election code violations were waived to Fayette County Court on Thursday.

The men were scheduled for preliminary hearings before District Judge Ronald Haggerty Jr. that day.

A countywide investigating grand jury recommended that charges be filed against Walter “Deb” Wiltrout, 67; Thomas Scott Keefer, 58; and William H. Geary, 62.

Keefer and Geary had been charged with election code violations and conspiracy at the recommendation of the same grand jury.

The grand jury said Keefer and Geary helped voters obtain and cast absentee ballots when the voters, most of whom were elderly, were able to go to the polls.

In addition, grand jurors found that Keefer and Geary failed to submit required declarations of physical disability with the ballots.

In the presentments on Keefer and Geary, the grand jury found that the two incumbent supervisors “were political allies” in support of Keefer's write-in campaign during the Nov. 8, 2011, election. Keefer mounted the write-in campaign after losing the Democratic nomination to David Butler.

Keefer won re-election in November 2011, defeating Butler by a vote count of 741-732, according to the presentment.

Jurors found that Geary and Keefer visited voters' homes, asked them to obtain applications for absentee ballots and then helped them complete the applications despite knowing that the voters would be able to vote in person on Election Day.

Once they assisted the voters, the men failed to fill out required declarations of physical disability with the ballots, according to the presentment.

State police charged Wiltrout with two misdemeanor counts each of unlawful assistance in voting and violation of provisions relating to absentee voting.

A countywide investigating grand jury recommended the charges be filed. In a presentment handed down this year, the jury found that Wiltrout failed to fill out declarations of assistance after helping two voters fill out and mail absentee ballots.

Jurors said there is no evidence Wiltrout “influenced” the two voters on their selections, but they nonetheless recommended the district attorney pursue charges.

In the presentment regarding Wiltrout, the jury noted that it does not believe that he conspired with Geary and Keefer regarding the allegations against them. But it found that Wiltrout failed to fill out declarations of assistance after helping two voters fill out and mail absentee ballots.

All three men are scheduled for a formal arraignment at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 16 in Courtroom Three of the Fayette County Courthouse.

They are all free on $5,000 unsecured bond.

Mark Hofmann is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-626-3539 or mhofmann@tribweb.com.

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