James Craig’s ‘gang of forgers’ also committed fraud for another campaign, complaint alleges

More evidence of fake signatures surface in another Michigan race

Apr 29, 2022 at 12:54 pm
click to enlarge Eight petition circulators for several campaigns  in Michigan are accused of faking signatures for nominating petitions. - Shutterstock
Eight petition circulators for several campaigns in Michigan are accused of faking signatures for nominating petitions.

The eight petition circulators who are accused of “massive criminal fraud” to obtain signatures for former Detroit Police Chief James Craig’s gubernatorial campaign allegedly did the same thing for an Oakland County judicial candidate.

Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Tricia Dare’s campaign for a seat on the Oakland County Circuit Court used the same eight circulators as Craig to collect about 4,200 signatures to get her name on the ballot.

In a 45-page complaint filed with the Michigan Bureau of Elections on Tuesday, the circulators are accused of working together to submit fake signatures on Dare’s nominating petitions.

Many of the signatures share the same handwriting, and several voters signed affidavits saying their names were forged on the petitions, according to the complaint.

“There are numerous examples of signature irregularities included, but not limited to, the same handwriting on the same numbered lines of each circulator’s petition, using initials as signatures in the same handwriting, using the same person to sign multiple signatures for the same circulator and other circulators, and the similar repeating pattern of alleged cities in which the signatures were allegedly procured,” the complaint states.

The complaint was submitted by Kay I. Shelton, the wife of Amanda Shelton, an opponent of Dare’s. When she filed the complaint, Shelton tells Metro Times that she was unaware of the allegations against Craig’s circulators.

“I was shocked but also relieved that others were seeing what I was seeing: an orchestrated mass signature fraud scheme,” Shelton says.

The allegations are very similar to those made against Craig’s campaign by attorney Mark Brewer on behalf of the Michigan Democratic Party. Brewer dubbed the circulators “a gang of forgers” who engaged in “round-robining,” a term used to describe a group of people who conspire to sign multiple petitions.

A sample of similar signatures by one of the petition circulators for James Craig's campaign. - Michigan Bureau of Elections
Michigan Bureau of Elections
A sample of similar signatures by one of the petition circulators for James Craig's campaign.

Brewer alleges the circulators submitted nearly 7,000 fake signatures.

Brewer tells Metro Times that the dual complaints are “independent validation of each other’s allegations of forgery.”

“It was not surprising to me that they were forging signatures on behalf of other campaigns,” Brewer says. “I have been aware of this gang doing this before. I was eager for an opportunity to go after them.”

The circulators accused of fraud are Stephen Tinnin of Wixom, Yazmine Vasser of Troy, Deshawn Evans of Harper Woods, Nicholas Carlton of Detroit, William Williams of Detroit, Diallo Vaughn of Oak Park, Jonell Hampton of Mississippi, and Corey Hampton of Mississippi. They have not been charged with a crime, and it's not yet clear whether police plan to investigate.

The Michigan Bureau of Elections is tasked with reviewing petition challenges and signatures. Based on the findings, the bureau drafts a report and makes a recommendation to the Board of State Canvassers, which is responsible for making a determination on the validity of signatures.

Candidates who don’t submit the required number of valid signatures are disqualified from the ballot.

“I hope there will be a complete and thorough investigation of the fraudulent signatures at the state level for all the candidates who used these circulators — not just the governor's race,” Shelton says. “If there was a crime committed here in Oakland County, I hope that the appropriate county law enforcement and prosecutors’ offices will also conduct a thorough investigation and bring charges against anyone who participated in, aided, or abetted any scheme to submit a false signature or petition.”

Metro Times couldn't reach Dare for comment.

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