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Mary Poppins prompts investigation


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(CNN) -- Ohio authorities say a man was charged Monday with filling out more than 100 fictitious voter registration forms, some in names such as Disney character Mary Poppins and pop singer Michael Jackson.

Chad Staton, 22, of Defiance County in northwestern Ohio, was to receive money for each registration form he could persuade potential voters to fill out, said Sheriff David Westrick.

Instead, Staton, himself, filled out the forms and returned them to the Toledo woman who hired him. Sheriff's deputies allege he was paid in crack cocaine instead of money.

Staton had his first court appearance Monday on a felony charge of false registration, and was released on his own recognizance. He has another court appearance scheduled for Friday.

Westrick said the Toledo woman, Georgianne Pitts, 41, told officers she was recruited by Thaddeus Jackson II of Cleveland to obtain voter registrations. He said a business card provided by Pitts indicated that Jackson is the assistant Ohio director of the NAACP National Voter Fund.

Westrick said he didn't know the legal status of Pitts and Jackson, who live outside his jurisdiction.

Greg Moore, the executive director of the NAACP National Voter Fund, said: "We believe anyone violating the law hurts the credibility of NVF and more importantly the thousands of hard-working men and women who are legally registering people to vote."

According to its Web site, the National Voter Fund advances the cause of civil rights through advocacy, educating voters on candidates' stands on civil rights and increasing voter turnout in the African-American community.

The sheriff added that deputies and Toledo police had obtained a search warrant for the house where Pitts lives. He said officers confiscated drug paraphernalia and voter registration forms from the home.

Westrick said Pitts admitted paying Staton crack cocaine for the registrations in lieu of money. Westrick said he didn't know the legal status of Pitts and Jackson, who live outside his jurisdiction.

Westrick said his office began an investigation after a complaint was made by the Defiance County Board of Elections. The board received the forms from the Cuyahoga Board of Elections. Cuyahoga County includes Cleveland.

Westrick said officials became suspicious because the handwriting on the forms was similar. In some cases, there were dozens of addresses for a single block in Defiance, where there are only a couple of homes, he said.

But the biggest giveaway may have been the names themselves.

"Mary Poppins hasn't voted here in a long time. Michael Jackson hasn't. Those were some of the fictitious names," Westrick said.


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