Jerry Trabona, 72, the ex-police chief of Amite City, Louisiana, faces up to five years in prison after pleading guilty on Wednesday, July 20, 2022, to conspiring to buy votes in a pair of elections.
On the eve of his federal trial, a corrupt Louisiana police chief has confessed to buying votes for both his campaign and that of a crooked politician.
Ex-Amite City Police Chief Jerry Trabona, 72, inked a plea deal with federal prosecutors on Wednesday, July 20, in which he copped to conspiracy to commit vote buying. In the agreement, he admits that, in 2016, he paid people to vote for him and a fellow Democrat, Councilman Kristian “Kris” Hart, during both the Tangipahoa Parish open primary and the general election.
In exchange for the plea, federal prosecutors agreed to toss one count of conspiracy to commit vote buying and two counts of aiding and abetting vote buying.
“We must have fair elections, free from the taint of corruption, to ensure a fully functional government,” US Attorney Duane A. Evans for the Eastern District of Louisiana said in a prepared statement released Thursday. “Safeguarding the voting process is of paramount importance to our office and the Department of Justice.”
Jerry Trabona retired as the Amite City Police chief in 2020. The town of about 4,000 people is roughly 60 miles northwest of New Orleans, with Lake Pontchartrain between them. Amite City Police photo.
Trabona did not respond to multiple Coffee or Die Magazine cell phone and email messages seeking comment. His legal team also didn’t respond to requests for comment.
In addition to his criminal conspiracy with Trabona, Hart has pleaded guilty to three counts of paying voters during both the 2016 and 2020 elections.
Both Hart and Trabona are slated to be sentenced on Nov. 1 before US District Judge Greg Gerard Guidry in New Orleans.
Each man faces up to five years behind bars and a $250,000 fine.
The case was investigated by FBI agents.
“Providing a voter with money or something of value in exchange for voting is a federal crime,” said Special Agent in Charge Douglas A. Williams Jr. of the FBI New Orleans Field Office in a prepared statement. “Today’s guilty pleas sends a clear message that individuals like former Amite Chief of Police Jerry Trabona and current Amite City Councilmember Kris Hart, who engaged in voter fraud, will be held accountable.”
Carl Prine is a former senior editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He has worked at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
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