134 Felony Charges Filed Against Four In Mail-In Ballot Scheme Costing Opponent Election by Five Votes; Facing Up To 99 Years in Prison

AUSTIN, TX  – On Thursday September 24, 2020, the Attorney General of Texas, Kenneth Paxton announced on his official government website (texasattorneygeneral.gov), that authorities have arrested Gregg County Commissioner Shannon Brown, his wife Marlena Jackson and political associates Charlie Burns, and DeWayne Ward on charges alleging participation in an organized vote harvesting scheme during the 2018 Democratic primary election – one which cost his opponent the election.

In total, the state filed 134 felony charges against the four defendants, including engaging in organized election fraud, illegal voting, fraudulent use of an application for a mail-in ballot, unlawful possession of a mail-in ballot, tampering with a governmental record, and election fraud. Penalties for these offenses range from six months in state jail to 99 years in prison. 

The charges allege that the four conspired to increase the pool of ballots needed to swing the race in Brown’s favor, where the group targeted young, able-bodied voters to cast ballots by mail fraudulently claiming the voters were “disabled,” in most cases without the voters’ knowledge or consent.

“It is an unfortunate reality that elections can be stolen outright by mail ballot fraud. Election fraud, particularly an organized mail ballot fraud scheme orchestrated by political operatives, is an affront to democracy and results in voter disenfranchisement and corruption at the highest level,” said Attorney General Paxton. “Mail ballots are vulnerable to diversion, coercion, and influence by organized vote harvesting schemes. This case demonstrates my commitment to ensuring Texas has the most secure elections in the country, and I thank the Gregg County Sheriff and District Attorney for their continued partnership. Those who try to manipulate the outcome of elections in Texas must be held accountable.”  

Brown won his election by five votes with 787 mail-in ballots cast out of 2,089 votes cast overall.

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