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Published: Saturday, 10/23/2004

Drug, vote fraud suspect says little before judge

BY VANESSA WINANS
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Chad Staton leaves Defiance Municipal Court after appearing on a charge of trading bogus voter registrations for drugs. Chad Staton leaves Defiance Municipal Court after appearing on a charge of trading bogus voter registrations for drugs.
HIRES / BLADE Enlarge

DEFIANCE - The man accused of exchanging falsely filled-out voter registrations for crack cocaine remained mum yesterday, letting his attorney do the talking yesterday to a judge and the media.

Chad Staton, 22, whose arrest for false registration has attracted national interest, said little as he waived his right to a preliminary hearing before Defiance Municipal Court Judge John T. Rohrs III. The short, slender man, clad in a plaid shirt and blue jeans, quietly gave one-word answers as the judge questioned his understanding of the proceedings. The waiver sends the case to the Defiance County Court of Common Pleas.

Smoking a cigarette, Mr. Staton stood with his pregnant fiancee, Amanda Owens, 23, outside the municipal building before his attorney arrived.

"I'm kind of nervous," he acknowledged, but he declined to say anything else.

After the appearance, attorney E. Charles Bates described his client as a ninth-grade dropout and "a very simple man" who did not have "a full grasp of what he was getting involved in. He was trying to do something for someone he knew."

That someone was Georgianne Pitts, 41, of Toledo, Mr. Bates said. Police said she paid Mr. Staton crack cocaine in exchange for voter registrations, She has been charged by Toledo police on two misdemeanor drug charges. She faces no charges in Defiance County, Sheriff David Westrick said.

Mr. Bates and Defiance County prosecutor Jeffrey A. Strausbaugh said yesterday they were discussing a possible resolution of the case, but "we have no agreement at this time," Mr. Strausbaugh said. He declined to comment further.

The case grabbed national headlines this week when the sheriff's office alleged that Mr. Staton had registered more than 100 voters with such names as Brett Favre, Dick Tracy, and even a certain British nanny.

"Mary Poppins hasn't voted here in a long time," Sheriff Westrick quipped yesterday.

Contact Vanessa Winans at:

vwinans@theblade.com

or 419-724-6168.



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