Decision On Charlie White Charges Expected Next Month
Special Prosecutor Hopes To Have Voter Fraud Probe Wrapped Up Soon
8:34 AM, Nov 18, 2010
Embattled Secretary of State-elect Charlie White may learn his fate within the next 30 days.The special prosecutor investigating him on allegations of voter fraud said he hopes to have his investigation wrapped up in the next month, 6News' Norman Cox reported.6News has learned that White is in contact with current Secretary of State Todd Rokita about the transition and that he may have interviewed potential employees.But if he's charged and convicted of a felony, he may never take office.White got into trouble when it was discovered he had voted in the primary from his ex-wife's home where he used to live, not his new home across town, 6News reported.He was forced to give up his seat on the Fishers Town Council amid a clamor from Democrats to prosecute him for voter fraud.Special Prosecutor John Dowd said he's been exploring different options. He could charge White with a felony, a misdemeanor or nothing at all."Under Indiana law, once somebody is convicted of a felony through a jury trial or through a plea arrangement or through a bench trial, the person must immediately resign from office, (but) that's not the case with a misdemeanor," said Shawn Boyne, a professor at the Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis.Boyne said if White is charged with a felony, but plea bargains it down to a misdemeanor, he could keep his new office.Dowd wouldn't speculate on whether that might happen and said he still has witnesses to interview."After having been a prosecutor close to 40 years, most cases are resolved by plea agreements," he said. "After any charging information is on the table and presented to White and his attorney, that possibility exists."But even if White avoid a felony charge, a misdemeanor conviction would be a major embarrassment to Republicans, because this wouldn't be just any misdemeanor for a person who administers the state's election laws."Because it goes to voting and you're the secretary of state, I think that puts a hamper on how effective he could be as a possible future secretary of state," said 6News political contributor Abdul-Hakim Shabazz. "Now does he step down over a misdemeanor? That I'm not totally sure yet."If White is forced out, Gov. Mitch Daniels would appoint a new secretary of state.