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Published: Saturday, 12/11/2004

Vote fraud suspect jailed after indictment

BY VANESSA WINANS
BLADE STAFF WRITER

After his indictment by a Defiance County grand jury, Defiance authorities this week arrested Chad Staton, accused of falsely filling out voter registration in exchange for drugs.

Mr. Staton, 22, remained in the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio yesterday, charged with 10 counts of false registration and one count of contempt of court, a center spokesman said. A bond hearing and arraignment has been set for 9 a.m. Wednesday in the Defiance County Common Pleas Court.

Mr. Staton became something of a celebrity when the case broke in October, with national and international press and pundits picking up the tale of this young man who allegedly filled out voter registration forms with such names as Jeffrey Dahmer, Mary Poppins, and Brett Favre. He allegedly filled out the forms for Georgianne Pitts, 41, who was working for the NAACP's National Voter Fund.

Pitts was found dead in her home Monday, possibly from a drug overdose, the Toledo police crime log indicated. The Lucas County coroner's office conducted an autopsy Monday, but has not released a cause of death pending toxicology test results.

The Lucas County prosecutor's office was planning to file charges against Pitts, said Frank Stiles, chief investigator for the Lucas County prosecutor's office.

"I had talked to her a couple of weeks ago," Mr. Stiles said. "We would have charged her with 10 counts of [filing] false voter registration forms."

Pitts was the lynchpin of the operation, he said.

"She was the central figure in all this," Mr. Stiles said. "Everything went through her. She hired him, paid him in crack, and she was hired by the NAACP."

Her death means the end of that portion of the case.

False registration is a fifth-degree felony, and carries a sentence of six to 12 months.

Contact Vanessa Winans at:

vwinans@theblade.com

or 419-724-6168.



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