Perfect Timing: How Malcontent Wiseasses Tried to Prove a Point About Politics and Ended up Charged as Felons

White conservatives who tweaked an election in The Woodlands were just what Greg Abbott needed to prove he doesn’t prosecute only minorities for voter fraud.

With that, the jurors headed out of the courtroom and into a back room where so many fates have been decided. According to one of the jurors, there was considerable debate.

Three of them wanted to give Jenkins probation, meaning no jail time for the father of three. "Everyone else was vehement that he go to prison for this," said one juror, who asked not to be identified. "These people were dead set on sticking it to a Woodlands guy.

"It was clear this was some kind of political vendetta. In my heart, I felt these guys had ruffled the feathers of someone and, I don't know, these guys in this RUD had money and came back with a vengeance. But that never came across in the trial."

Adrian Heath never thought he'd end up a convicted felon for getting involved in a local election.
Marco Torres
Adrian Heath never thought he'd end up a convicted felon for getting involved in a local election.
Attorney General Greg Abbott has pledged to fight voter fraud in Texas.
Texans For Greg Abbott
Attorney General Greg Abbott has pledged to fight voter fraud in Texas.

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The jurors deliberated for an hour. The three holdouts caved quickly.

The jury's verdict: three years in prison and a fine of $10,000.

After being booked into the Montgomery County Jail, Jenkins, who holds a master's degree in engineering from Rice, bailed out and is now appealing his conviction.

Abbott tweeted out the penitentiary time given to Jenkins: "Another Voter Fraud Conviction leads to prison." He included the hashtag #TxGOP.

Heath's trial in October took a similar turn — he was found guilty — and, after watching Jenkins get sentenced to prison, Heath elected to have a judge decide his sentence.

That sentence is expected to come sometime this spring.

On November 14, , the state sent a letter to Sybil Doyle, 64, and her daughter, Roberta Cook, 37, whose trials are scheduled next. Among their options were to plead to the third-degree felony of illegal voting and receive 24 months of deferred adjudication and a $10,000 fine each, or to plead guilty to attempted illegal voting, a misdemeanor, and get 12 months of community supervision and a $4,000 fine each.

The December 2 deadline to take the deal came and went. No interest. Sybil Doyle is next on the trial list.

"I want my name defended. I can't plead guilty to this; I didn't do anything wrong," she said.

Also in line for the courtroom is Bill ­Berntsen, 62, who is suffering from cancer. Contacted for this article, Berntsen declined to speak. In an email, he explained, "I've been ill for the last few years with multiple myeloma, a blood disease that destroys bone. I have been taking chemo and will continue to do so for at least two more years, maybe longer."

If people like Sybil Doyle and Bill Berntsen are going to prison, it may be an accident, said Kulhavy, the ousted Secretary of State lawyer.

"The AG is accustomed to prosecuting people who throw elections because they have a relative they want to get into election and the stealing of ballots," Kulhavy said. "But with Adrian and his buddies, they refused to take any sort of plea bargain. [State prosecuting attorney] Jonathan White, he was not that interested in getting these people thrown in prison and was offering deferred adjudication. He was surprised the jury gave Jenkins three years. It becomes, now, an embarrassment for the attorney general." White declined to comment for this story, citing the ongoing prosecutions.

For Heath, his conviction for what he believed was an act that complied with the state's voter residency law — which no doubt needs fixing but was in effect all the same — is a psychological bludgeon.

"I'm a victim of the same interests that I had supported all of my life," Heath says. "And those interests — the state, the landowners, the politicians — don't seem to be willing to give an inch. We're all political prisoners of Greg Abbott."

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21 comments
fratdawgg23
fratdawgg23

The group seems to have had honorable intentions, but they should have consulted with an election/campaign/political law attorney. There may have been a loophole to exploit.

AdrianHeath
AdrianHeath

http://www.scribd.com/doc/206514363/Application-for-a-Place-on-the-Ballot-Woodlands-Road-Utility-District-1

Please help expose the ludicrous structure and developer oriented existence of the Woodlands Road Utility District #1 by filing for a position on the ballot with me this year. Any resident of the state over 18 yrs qualifies. No requirement to live in the district for board members whereas the district is actually gerrymandered to preclude the involvement of voters in the community. I wish for 1000 applicants.

BobStevens
BobStevens

The people who were indicted in this case were a watchdog group who uncovered illegal activities of the "woodlands elite." Former representative Tommy Williams engaged in illegal activities along with attorney Bruce Tough and others get get these indictments. There were pay offs to the Attorney General office. 

When will Gregg Abbott and his minions prosecute the woodlands millionaires Kate and Dirk Laukien since they both changed their voting addresses to the Woodlands Railroad Utility District like these people did?

SoSezYou
SoSezYou

Hilarious antics of the real voter fraudsters....irrational baggers. Must suck to be stabbed in the back by the worst bagger in the state in Greg Abbot. 

Puller58
Puller58

So now to the appeals courts?

runlola
runlola

"Heath and nine others changed their voter registration addresses in April to 9333 Six Pines Drive, the Residence Inn. Several days later, McDuffee, Goeddertz and Berntsen, all among those changing their voter registration, filed as candidates in the May 8 board election."  


I am still completely baffled by these two sentences.  The deadline to file an application for place on ballot for the May 2010 uniform election date was March 8, 2010 and the deadline to file an application for write-in candidacy was March 15, 2010.  How exactly were they able to file applications for place on ballot in April?  Legally, they would have not been able to be accepted by the designated agent for Woodlands RUD per the Texas Election Code.  

johncoby
johncoby

who in their rightwing mind would even think about changing their voter registration to a hotel to get into office? They should go to jail for stupidity if nothing else.

AdrianHeath
AdrianHeath

The meaning to all Texans of these prosecutions by Abbott is that the will  of corporations, insiders and political cohorts outweigh the rule of law and the Texas constitution. No developer should be allowed to own and operate a political subdivision of the State of Texas for its own ends and out of reach of voters. see Art III Sec 52 (A)

Moreover, diligent citizens who take pains to follow the law by  consulting the highest authorities ( i.e. the SOS) are trampled at the AG's whim.

Republicans and Tea Parties don't want to clean their own house first.

If the AG was a Democrat they would all be on fire.


Think you have nothing to fear from your government? Think again.

joasis1
joasis1

If only they were democrats, then they'd have been applauded for their creativity and good intentions, probably even earning awards from Dear Leader and the ironic or paradoxical Holder Justice Department.

bdamages
bdamages

All this mischief arises from the fact that residents who are not property owners can vote in taxing authority elections, and property-owning non-residents cannot.  Another example:  mineral owners whose property is taxed cannot vote for school boards who set the rates on their property.

larrybradley
larrybradley

There was a time when enforcing an important law would not have warranted such a piece as this. Too bad those days are gone. To quote your heroine, Hillary, "What difference does it make?" what color they were or to which party they belonged? Here's a tip for your next story that deals with a court case, i.e., justice: Laws are made in order to be enforced. Unless there is judicial misbehavior during the trial or it is later proved that the defendants did not do what they were accused of doing, there is nothing to see here. Move along.

Shawn
Shawn

I stopped reading at "White Conservatives." If anyone had ever started an article with "Black liberals" or "Black" anything would be jumped on and make national news over their racism. Double standard that keeps feeding the hate.

tenmen
tenmen

pic of paper ballot is misleading, but the key in voter fraud!!!  we use little plastic voting machines.  Do you really think your vote counts on the plastic voting machine????  Back to paper ballots  where we can have some kind of accountability

AdrianHeath
AdrianHeath

@SoSezYou 1. Standing up to corrupt crony corporatist  local government is not irrational or fraudulent.

2. You got that right. Abbott is the fraudulent one

AdrianHeath
AdrianHeath

@johncoby I don't know who, but I do know that none of those involved in the RUD corruption case did that

BobStevens
BobStevens

@AdrianHeath Please investigate the satanic underworld of the Illuminati. These satanists are everywhere, in government, politics, healthcare, law, etc. Also, the Freemasons are satanists/illuminati. I am praying for you Mr Heath as well as Mr. Jenkins and the rest of your group. Thank you for all the wonderful work that has been done to fight corruption. Please talk to your friends about Jesus coming soon.
 The Peace Deal between Israel and Palestine will be the time of the Rapture. Obama is the anti-christ and pope francis is the false prophet.

alternateworld
alternateworld

@joasis1    The only irony is they were probably republicans and persecuted under a law that was intended to prevent democratic leaning voters from voting.  Let's see, that make 3 prosecutions.  Abbot is definitely catching all those thousands of fraudulent voters isn't he?

 
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