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Berrien Co. Man Facing Felony Election Forgery Charges

Posted at 4:58 PM, Apr 24, 2014
and last updated 2014-04-24 16:58:26-04

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. (April 24, 2014) — Edward Pinckney, 65, of Benton Township is facing felony election forgery charges related to his effort to recall the Benton Harbor mayor.

Officials claim Pinckney and another man, 59-year-old James Cornelius, were attempting to recall Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower “for voting ‘No’ to not allow the city income tax to be placed on the November 5, 2013 ballot.”

According to a Thursday release from the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office, the county election commission approved language filed by Cornelius to recall the mayor on Nov. 6, 2013.  He then had to gather 393 signatures within 60 days to proceed with a recall election.

Pinckney is accused of changing dates on five petitions and then submitting them or helping submit them to the Berrien County Clerk. Election forgery is a felony with a maximum five-year sentence.

Pinckney is also charged with six misdemeanor counts of allowing the same person to sign more than once and then lying about it on a circulator’s certificate.  Each count is punishable by up to 90 days behind bars.

Cornelius is also facing one charge of allowing someone to sign the petition more than once and another misdemeanor charge of permitting signers to sign out of his presence.

Prior to these charges prosecutors say Cornelius submitted sufficient petitions to the county clerk on Jan. 8 and a recall election was scheduled May 6.