Judge Refuses To Downgrade Felonies To Misdemeanors
12:08 PM, Feb 23, 2012
Former Secretary of State Charlie White was sentenced Thursday to one year on home detention, effectively ending his time in office.White, 42, was convicted earlier this month of false registration, voting in another precinct, submitting a false ballot, theft and two counts of perjury.Besides home detention, White will be required to complete 30 hours of community service and pay a $1,000 fine.Defense attorney Carl Brizzi asked at Thursday's sentencing hearing that each of the charges be reduced to misdemeanors, since White cannot continue to serve as secretary of state with a felony conviction, but that request was denied."We're obviously grateful for the opportunity to stay out of jail. That's a good thing. Obviously, we were hoping for a reduction to a misdemeanor, but the judge did not agree," Brizzi said after the sentence was handed down.After White's conviction, Gov. Mitch Daniels immediately appointed White's chief deputy, Jerry Bonnet, as interim secretary of state. Daniels said he held off on a permanent appointment out of respect for the judge's authority to reduce the charges. He was not available for comment after Thursday's sentencing.White used his ex-wife's address instead of the address of a condo he had with his fiancee when he registered to vote in the May 2010 Republican primary. Prosecutors argued that White didn't want to give up his $1,000-per-month Fishers Town Council salary after moving from that district."This is a case of a person not accepting responsibility for his actions and trying to undermine the system by accusing everybody and their brother of doing things wrong, apparently, to deflect criticism from himself," Special Prosecutor Dan Sigler said after the sentencing.White's wife, Michelle White, and Bill Mills, White's ex-wife's husband, both testified at the hearing on White's behalf.Michelle White, crying, told the judge her husband has a good heart and is a good role model for her daughter, and pleaded for the judge to let him stay with the family.Charlie White then took the stand for the first time in his defense. His attorney did not call any witnesses during the jury trial."I never intentionally meant to do anything I was convicted of," he told the judge, crying at times. "All I wanted to do was to vote. I was not trying to influence any race."White declined to speak with reporters after the hearing.Hamilton Superior Court Judge Steven Nation stayed White's home detention pending appeal.White, a Republican who took office in January 2011, was indicted in March 2011 by a Hamilton County grand jury.The sentencing, however, does not end all of the court battles over White's office.The Indiana Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments next week on a civil case in which Democrats contend White was never eligible to run for office in 2010 because he was improperly registered to vote. Democrats contend the office should go the Democrat who lost the 2010 election, Vop Osili."I think it bolstered our case before the state Supreme Court that Charlie White committed fraud and that he was not properly registered to vote," said Indiana Democratic Chairman Dan Parker.
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