Elections

Homeless man with lengthy criminal history accused of voter fraud in Fort Worth

There’s another voter fraud case in Tarrant County. These are the Election Equipment Carrier voting machines distributed to polling places in Tarrant County for elections.
There’s another voter fraud case in Tarrant County. These are the Election Equipment Carrier voting machines distributed to polling places in Tarrant County for elections. pmoseley@star-telegram.com

A 50-year-old homeless man with a lengthy criminal history has been accused of voter fraud in Tarrant County.

Charles Nathan Jackson — who was booked into and then released from the Tarrant County Jail this month — was indicted on a charge of providing false information on a voting application.

This is the latest case of voter fraud filed by the Texas Attorney General’s office in Tarrant County.

It comes after an investigation into an alleged “voter fraud ring” in Fort Worth that led to the indictment of four women: Leticia Sanchez, Leticia Sanchez Tepichin, Maria Solis and Laura Parra.

There is no indication that Jackson’s case is related to the women’s case. The Attorney General’s office declined to comment on the cases.

Jackson’s alleged victim resides in southeast Fort Worth, whereas the alleged victims in the women’s case are in north Fort Worth.

Jackson’s indictment came on the same day, but wasn’t previously made public because he had not been arrested.

He is accused of providing false information, specifically the signature of a voter, on an application for an early voting ballot in January 2016, according to the indictment.

Jackson had agreed to a jailhouse interview with the Star-Telegram, but was released from jail before the interview was to occur Monday morning. He did not immediately return a message left for him at the homeless shelter in Fort Worth that he listed as his address on jail documents.

His attorney, Gerard Kardonsky, did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.

Mardene Hickerson, a 75-year-old Fort Worth woman listed as the victim in the case, said she’s never heard of Jackson and doesn’t know why he may have targeted her.

She said two men came to her house last year and showed her a signature, asking if it was hers.

“I told them no,” said Hickerson, a Democrat who said she’s been battling cancer for the past few years. “It shocked me when they came to the door.

“Why do people want to do this?”

Voter fraud

Last month, the four women — Sanchez, her daughter, Tepichin, and Solis and Parra — were arrested after being indicted on more than two dozen felony counts of voter fraud.

State officials allege that the women were paid to target older voters on Fort Worth’s north side to “harvest those ballots for specific candidates in 2016.” The charges address votes cast in the 2016 Democratic primary but also are tied to the 2015 city council election, officials have said.

Court documents also allege that Sanchez engaged in organized criminal activity in collaboration with her three co-defendants; Stuart Clegg, a former executive director for the Tarrant County Democratic Party; and others.

Attorneys representing one of the women have said they believe these charges, announced shortly before the Nov. 6 midterm election, were politically motivated.

The women “are political footballs being kicked back and forth by people who have a vested interest in suppressing minority vote,” said Greg Westfall, who along with Frank Sellers, is representing Tepichin. “They are mothers and grandmothers. They are active in the community.

“They are being used by people who want to justify voter ID,” he said. “At the end of the day, there’s not going to be any fraud in this deal.”

In Jackson’s case, because he has two previous state-jail felony convictions for possession of a controlled substance (cocaine) and theft, he is also charged with being a repeat offender in the indictment.

The repeat-offender enhancement could raise Jackson’s maximum punishment for providing false information charge to up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Tarrant County court records show Jackson has more than a dozen misdemeanor and felony convictions dating back to 1998, including assault, theft, possession of a controlled substance and criminal trespassing.

Statewide cases

A review of voter fraud cases handled by the Texas Attorney Generals Office shows that there have been 453 counts or offenses prosecuted statewide since 2005.

In many cases, suspects were charged with multiple counts of voter fraud-related crimes.

Only one of those — the case of Rosa Maria Ortega, the mother of four sentenced by a Fort Worth judge to eight years behind bars for illegally voting in 2012 and 2014 — was local, Attorney General records show.

Starr County saw the most election violation cases prosecuted by the state, with 18. Most of those cases were related to the primary or primary runoff elections in 2016.

The next highest number of cases — 10 each — was found in Hidalgo, Dallas/Rockwall and Starr/Brooks counties, Attorney General records show.

Currently, there are 59 cases of election fraud violations being prosecuted by the Attorney General’s office.

Thirty of those charges are tied to five people in Tarrant County, state records show.

The four Fort Worth women — Sanchez, Tepichin, Solis and Parra — were indicted on dozens of felony counts of voter fraud related to actions taken during the 2016 Democratic Primary election.

The other local case involves Jackson, who was charged with making a false statement on an application during the 2016 Democratic Primary.

Other pending cases are in Bexar, Hidalgo, Jefferson, Chambers, Nueces and San Patricio counties, state records show.

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley
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