a PR disaster resulting in White being convicted in the court of public opinion. For an elected official, that is usual fatal to one's reputation regardless of actual guilt or innocence.
|Secretary of State Charlie White|
A close examination of the facts reveal how much of a witchhunt the effort is to get Charlie White. It is a persecution, not a prosecution. People who say it is not political, because Republicans have also called for his resignation, overlook the fact that something that is political doesn't have to be partisan. Of course, the Republican Governor would like to appoint the Secretary of State. White wouldn't cooperate though and good for him. He earned the position and shouldn't leave based on trumped up political charges.
About the facts of the case, they are actually simple. White lived in an apartment at 6994 Pintail Drive. In 2010, he bought a condo at 13086 Overlook Drive with the plan of marrying his fiance, Michelle, and moving in.
Traveling the state to campaign for Secretary of State delayed the marriage. Michelle, who had been burned before in another relationship, did not want to live together before marriage. So while Michelle moved into the condo, White made other living arrangements, namely to live at his ex-wife's house at 7527 Broadleaf Drive pending the marriage and White's move into the condo.
Before the 2010 primary, White had his registration change from 6994 Pintail Drive (the apartment) address to 7527 Broadleaf Drive (the ex-wife's house where White's was living. White did exactly what he should have done. You register where you are living, not where you are to be living in the future. The factual findings of the Election Commission was that White was living at his ex-wife's house and was properly registered. The decision by Judge Rosenberg overruling the Commission did not find that White was not living at the ex-wife's house, but that it was a "temporary" residence and therefore he shouldn't have registered there. There was nothing in the opinion indicating out where else White could have been registered.)
Six of the seven felony charges lodged against Charlie White require that the jury reach a different conclusion than did the Election Commission, namely that White was living at the condo instead of at the ex-wife's house. Today I stopped by and heard the prosecution's first two witnesses. It appears from those witnesses testimony that the prosecution's case with regard to those six charges is built on a shaky foundation of circumstantial evidence. The witnesses testified that White identified the condo address as his address on employment documents, for example. But under cross-examination by White's counsel, Carl Brizzi, those witnesses admitted they had no idea whether White was living at the condo.
Below is the summary of the charges included in the indictments:
Count 1. (Submission of a False, Fictitious or Fraudulent Registration Application, a Class D Felony) of the White indictment says that White by "knowingly or intentionally sending a voter registration change of address forms to the Hamilton county Board of Voter Registration representing his new address [as] 7527 Broad Leaf Lane, Fishes, Indiana, when he knew he was or would be living at 13086 Overview Drive, Fishers, Indiana, at the time of the next election (May Primary 2010))"
Count 2 (Perjury a Class D Felony, IC 35-44-2-1(a)(1)) of the White indictment says that he executed a form changing his 6994 Pintail Drive to 7527 Broad Leaf Lane, when he knew at the time of the statement he was residing at 13086 Overview Drive.
Count 4 (Voting in Other Precinct, a Class D Felony, IC 3-14-2-11) of the White indictment says
that he committed the offense of "voting in Other Precinct, to wit: knowingly or intentionally voting in Delaware Township Precinct 12 indicating his residence was 7527 Broad Leaf Lane, Fishers, Indiana, when in fact he resided at the time at 13086 Overview Drive, Unit 5-B, Fishers, Indiana, which is located in Fishers, Fall Creek Township, Precinct 5.
Count 5 (Procuring, Casting or Tabulating a False, Fictitious or Fraudulent Ballot, a Class D Felony, IC 3-14-3-1.1(2)) of the White indictment says that he knowingly cast a vote in Delaware Township, Precinct 12 when he in fact lived in an address at 13086 Overview Drive which put him in Fall Creek Township, Precinct 5.
Count 6 (Perjury on a marriage application, Class D Felony) of the White indictment rests on the allegation that Charlie P. White did commit the offense of Perjury, to-wit: knowingly or intentionally making a false statement under oath or affirmation, knowing the statement to be false or not believing it to be true, to-wit: stating on his marriage license application to the Hamilton County Clerk's Office and made under affirmation of the truth thereof, that his residence was 7527 Broad Leaf Lane, Fishers, Indiana when it was 13086 Overview Drive, 5B, Fishers, Indiana.
But the persecutors, er prosecutors, weren't done yet. They obtained a copy of White's documents he signed closing on his condo and found White signed the 30 day occupancy affidavit, thus leading to Count 3, the only Class C felony charged:
Count 3 (Fraud on a Financial Institution, Class C Felony) of the White indictment says that White "did commit the offense of Fraud on a Financial institution, to-wit: by knowingly or intentionally executing or attempting to execute a scheme or artifice to obtain money, funds or other property owned by or under the custody or control of a State or federally chartered or federally insured financial institution by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representation or promises, to wit: representing in a real estate closing transaction that he intended to reside at 13086 Overview Drive, Fishers, Indiana within (30) days of February 26, 2010, and said misrepresentation was material to the said Charlie P. White obtaining the loan and more favorable interest rate."
There is no indication that White's lender ever complained White did not immediately move into the condo. Rather this charge was completely a creation of the special prosecutors looking for anything to hang Charlie White with. The problem with the charge though is that the affidavit deals with "intent" to occupy. Unless the prosecutors can prove that it was not White's "intent" to occupy the condo when he signed the document, which would be nearly impossible, the jury should acquit.
White did exactly the right thing when he registered at his ex-wife's house, the only address at which he could have legally registered.
Count 7 (Theft, Class D Felony) of the White indictment says that White "did commit the offense of Theft, to-wit: knowing or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of the Town of Fishers, Indiana, with the intent to deprive the Town of Fishers of any part of the value and use, to-wit: taking his pay as a Council member for Fishers Council District 2 during the period of approximately November 5, 2009 through September 28, 2010, when he did not reside in said Fishers Town council district."
Even if White is found to have been living at his ex-wife house during the May 2010 primary, there was a period of time after he got married and moved into the condo later that year when White was outside the district in which he was elected. That's what White admitted saying he made a mistake in doing. But it is not clear that it was a mistake. But Fishers town councilors, while elected from districts, serve at large. Even if he had to resign, the suggestion that his accepting his token salary from the council for those few months is "theft" is a reach to say the least. The fact is White continued to do his Fishers Town Council work even after he moved into the condo. The fact White might have been disqualified as a councilor because he moved out of the district from which he as elected doesn't mean he somehow stole his salary. In fact counsel for the Fishers Town Council disagreed with White when he tried to return his salary for that period.
The persecution of White needs to be brought to an end. If the jury acquits him, as it should, the question will be how White can restore his reputation. That might prove to be the most difficult hurdle in the end.