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MAHONING COUNTY Sheriff makes arrests in election fraud probe



Published: Tue, May 28, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The sheriff's department arrested a former Republican precinct committee candidate and issued a warrant for the arrest of another.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- A former 7th Ohio District Court of Appeals candidate, who told the Mahoning County Sheriff's Department he lives out of his car, faces two felony counts of election fraud and one count of election falsification.

T. Elliot Hough, who was the Republican write-in candidate for the court of appeals seat held by Judge Cheryl Waite until he withdrew less than a week before the May 7 primary, voted by absentee in the primary in a Canfield precinct in which he does not live, Sheriff Randall Wellington said today.

Also, Hough, 61, registered to vote in a precinct in which he does not live and also listed false addresses for himself on West Calla Road and Fairpark Road in Canfield on documents he filed with the board of elections, Wellington said.

Wellington said the Fair Street address on Hough's arrest report is also incorrect.

"He told us he lives out of his car," Wellington said.

Released on recognizance

County Court Judge Loren Popio released Hough on his own recognizance Saturday. He is to be arraigned Thursday in county court in Austintown.

Judge Popio said he released Hough on a recognizance bond because he is an attorney, and the prosecutor had no objection to it. The judge said he received a call from Don L. Hanni Jr., Hough's attorney, requesting the recognizance bond, which is not an unusual request.

Hough withdrew as a candidate before the primary when it was made public that he was being investigated for election fraud. The Mahoning County Bar Association had deemed him not qualified for office.

Also, the sheriff's department arrested a 22-year-old Boardman man on a felony count of election falsification and a misdemeanor count of election fraud and filed a warrant for the arrest of a 30-year-old Youngstown man for the same two charges. Both were Republicans for Real Reform candidates running for Republican precinct committee seats.

Michael Prozy, 22, of Mathews Road in Boardman was picked up on a warrant over the weekend.

Parents' address

The sheriff's department said the candidate for the Canfield Precinct 2 Republican committee seat listed his address as 442 Carriage Hill Drive, his parents' home, on his declaration of candidacy form. Prozy told deputies that he has not live there for three years and that he lives on Mathews Road in Boardman.

Prozy told deputies that Mark Hanni, founder of the Real Reform movement and a son of Don L. Hanni Jr., had asked him about his residency and told him if there were an inquiry, he should say he lives on Carriage Hill Drive. Hanni has said Prozy told him he considers his parents' home to be his legal place of residence, but because of the questions raised, he urged Prozy to withdraw as a candidate.

Prozy withdrew, but his name remained on the ballot. He lost 39-30.

Prozy was released on $3,750 bond and is to be arraigned Thursday in county court in Austintown.

The sheriff's department is still looking for James Roman, a Real Reform candidate for Austintown Precinct 11. Roman listed 104 S. Navarre Drive as his residence on his declaration of candidacy. Wellington said Roman lives at 85 S. Hazelwood Ave. in Youngstown. Roman lost his committee race 9-8.

Wellington said he expects his department to make further arrests involving election fraud during the next several weeks. Wellington would not say if Hanni is a suspect. Hanni has insisted he has done nothing illegal and has welcomed the investigation.

Hanni has forwarded information to the sheriff's department about concerns he has regarding the residency of a number of Real Reform opponents.

Attempt to unseat chairman

The Real Reform movement attempted to unseat Mahoning GOP Chairman Clarence Smith by fielding candidates in many of the county's 312 precincts. The established Republican Party won a majority of the precinct committee races. The precinct committee members elect the chairman, and Smith is not expected to face any opposition when the vote is held shortly.

The sheriff's department has spent the past few weeks investigating allegations of election fraud, and seized records from the board of elections May 3.




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