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Gov. Deal Suspends 3 Brooks Co. School Board Members

By: Gabrielle Sarann; Jacquie Slater; Matt Galka Email
By: Gabrielle Sarann; Jacquie Slater; Matt Galka Email

Update 1-11-12

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal issued an executive order on Tuesday, Jan. 10th., suspending three Brooks County school board members.

School Superintendent Debbie Folsom says she received the order around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday suspending Nancy Dennard, Elizabeth Thomas, and Linda Troutman.

The three, along with 9 others, were indicted on voter fraud in November, stemming from a 2010 voter fraud case.

All twelve people involved are facing multiple felony counts of Unlawful Possession of Ballots and Interfering With an Elector.

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Update 11-28-2011

Quitman, GA (AP) -- Two additional people have been indicted in
a voter fraud case stemming from a primary election in Brooks
County, bringing the number of people facing charges to 12.

District Attorney Joe Mulholland, a special prosecutor, says
Brenda Monds and Debra Dennard have now been indicted. The other 10 were charged last December on charges related to the July 2010 primary.

Among those charged is Angela Bryant, a member of the county
Board of Education. She's charged with unlawful possession of
ballots and violation of procedure for voting by absentee ballots.
April Proctor, Lula Smart, Kechia Harrison, Robert Dennard, Sandra
Cody, Elizabeth Thomas, Linda Troutman, Latashia Head, and Nancy
Dennard, also charged in December, face similar charges.

Monds faces only unlawful possession of ballots charges.

No trial date has been set.

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12 Indicted in Brooks County for Voter Fraud
by Jacquie Slater

Twelve people in Brooks County have been indicted for voter fraud for their involvement in an election back in 2010.

The twelve people involved in the case were arrested and charged with allegations of voter fraud back in December of 2010, following an extensive investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations.

Officials decided to investigate the individuals after an unusually high number of absentee ballots were cast in a July 2010 primary election.

The case then went to District Attorney Joe Mulholland's office for review. Earlier this week the case was presented to a jury and they found the charges to be legitimate. The next step, according to Mulholland, is to forward the indictments to the governor's office.

"Some of the individuals involved in this case are elected officials at this point, due to the election, from which the governor or secretary of state may or may not take steps to remove them from office," said Mulholland.

Mulholland expects the case to be heard in a judiciary court, rather than a court of public opinion, sometime early next year.

"Because of the number of witnesses that were involved, and the volume of the file, we're talking about 2 banker boxes full of information , four hundred fifty witnesses, I anticipate that it will probably be a pretty lengthy trial," he said.

All twelve people involved are facing multiple felony counts of Unlawful Possession of Ballotts and Interfering With an Elector.

The people charged are:

Angela Bryant
April Proctor
Brenda Monds
Debra Denard
Lula Smart
Kechia Harrison
Robert Denard
Sandra Cody
Elizabeth Thomas
Linda Troutman
Latashia Head
Nancy Denard

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Update 4:47 p.m.

Step by step hundreds of people marched down Highway 221 looking for Justice.

Two weeks ago, A five-month G-B-I investigation, lead to the arrest of ten people, including School Board official Nancy Dennard and newly-elected school board members Linda Troutman and Elizabeth Thomas-- both set to take office in January.

Seven other participants are alleged to also be responsible for carrying-out a voter fraud scheme to rig the July 20th primary election.

But protest leaders say longstanding racial tension in Brooks County is the blame.

"They want to make sure that you are intimidated and you are discouraged but we're here to say today we are neither intimidated and we won't be discouraged," said Serenity Christian Church Pastor Floyd Rose.

Nearly 200 people showed up for what protesters are calling the largest organized movement since the civil rights era but these residents say they're not here for a racial battle they're here for justice.

"Our vote counts. We need to vote to have people help our children because they're the ones that suffer," said Quitman Resident Carmelyta Gatlin.

"I think that they're message is that we're here, our voice and our vote matters in this community," said Quitman City Councilwoman Nikki Bradley.

GBI investigators would not give specific details about the alleged fraud, other than to say the ten people arrested unlawfully obtained other people's absentee ballots and violated absentee ballot procedures.
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UPDATE 6:14 p.m. by Gabrielle Sarann --

Brooks County deputies say they bonded out of jail on $5,000 per count, and most of them faced several counts.

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UPDATE 12/21 at 5:32 p.m. by Gabrielle Sarann --

GBI Agents made a round of arrests this morning for alleged voter fraud in Brooks County. The roundup began at 7 a.m. and landed 10 people behind bars.

"This is all an attempt to suppress black power in Brooks County," said Floyd Rose, the president of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership.

Citizens united outside the Brooks County jail to fight for what they're calling justice.

"And I'm telling you, it didn't work in the sixties and it's not gonna work now," said Floyd.

A five-month GBI investigation, lead to the arrest of 10 people Tuesday.

This included school board official Nancy Dennard and newly-elected school board members Linda Troutman and Elizabeth Thomas, both set to take office in January.

The following seven other participants are alleged to also be responsible for carrying-out a voter fraud scheme to rig the July 20 primary election: Angela Bryant, Lula Smart, Sandra Cody, Robert Dennard, Kechia Harrison, La'Tashia Head and April Proctor.

"They never been in any trouble, no kind of trouble, and then they come up with this?," said Rosa Smart, Elizabeth Thomas's and Lula Smart's mother.

GBI investigators would not give specific details about the alleged fraud, other than to say the 10 people arrested unlawfully obtained other people's absentee ballots and violated absentee ballot procedures.

"I thought the white and the black was coming together more than they really are," said Smart. "But I don't think so. It will always be a racial thang."

Elizabeth Thomas and Lula Smart's mother, Rose Smart, is furious.

She blames the arrests on longstanding racial tensions in Brooks County.

Many people supporting the candidates questioned why none of their opposition was present.

"I'm black," said Irene Brown, who came out to show her support "And I attend some of the city meetings, and I really don't understand who pressed the charged, why aren't they here!"

Officials say bond was set at $5,000 per count.

If Troutman and Thomas are convicted, they'll be barred from public office.

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12/21 at Noon by WCTV --

A GBI roundup in Brooks county lands 10 people behind bars for alleged voter fraud for the July 20th primary election.

The arrests began at 7am. Eyewitness News was at the Brooks County Jail. Family and friends of the ten people arrested gathered outside, waiting for them to make bail. They were angry and demanded answers.

Just four days before Christmas, GBI agents arrested one of Brooks Counties elected officials: School Board member Nancy Dennard, two officials-elect set to be sworn in next month, Linda Troutman and Elizabeth Thomas, and seven other participants for voter irregularities in the July 20th primary election. Over a thousand absentees were mailed out that swung the out outcome of three races.

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