By BRADEN LAMMERS
NORTH VERNON —
A North Vernon man who worked on former Jeffersonville Mayor Tom Galligan’s campaign in 2011 was sentenced to 18 months in prison on charges of voter fraud.
Michael L. Marshall, 60, pled guilty to three counts of voter fraud, all class D felonies, related to issues of him securing absentee ballots and submitting applications in Jennings County in 2010.
Jennings County Circuit Court Judge Jonathan W. Webster sentenced Marshall to 18 months in prison with nine months suspended, and assessed fees and fines that totaled about $450. The maximum amount of time Marshall could spend behind bars is nine months.
With credit for good-time served, Jennings County Clerk Mary Kilgore said Marshall will likely serve four-and-a-half months in prison.
Marshall’s attorney, Larry Wilder, of Jeffersonville, explained that once his client fulfills his sentence, the voter fraud charges will be reduced from class D felonies to class A misdemeanors.
“I think the judge was very fair,” Wilder said Wednesday. “[Marshall] understands what he did was wrong.”
Wilder added that his client was pleased he was able to retain his liquor license for a tavern he owns in North Vernon, despite pleading guilty to the charges. Wilder said it is his livelihood.
The three charges Marshall pled guilty to were the result of falsifying absentee ballot applications for his brother, Robert Marshall; his son, Vernon Marshall; and his former roommate, Kevin Phelps.
“Mike admitted today that he executed their name on them to secure their ballots,” Wilder said. “He accepted full responsibility and apologized.”
A Jennings County grand jury originally issued 66 indictments against Marshall, his son Christopher Marshall and a third Jennings resident, John Cook, after an investigation by the Indiana State Police. Marshall had faced 48 felony counts, including forgery and perjury, both class C felonies, and 23 counts of voter fraud.
Marshall was also in charge of soliciting absentee ballots in the re-election campaign for Galligan in 2011. He resigned from Galligan’s campaign when he was initially indicted in Jennings County on the voter fraud, perjury and forgery charges.
According to campaign finance reports filed during 2011, Galligan’s campaign paid Marshall’s business, North Vernon-based At Your Service Co., more than $52,710.23 through the year — almost a third of the campaign’s total expenditures.
The Clarksville Democrat Town Committee also paid Marshall $15,000 for “advertising” in 2011, according to its campaign finance report
Galligan and other local Democrats said previously that they had no knowledge Marshall faced the Jennings County charges when he was hired.
When asked if Marshall was prohibited from working on political campaigns in the future, Wilder said, “the prosecutor asked for that, but the judge did not answer that question.”
Wilder was referring to the judge not precluding Marshall from working on future campaigns by issuing a ruling on the question.
Clark County Democratic Party Chairman Bob Bottorff, who was not the chairman at the time Marshall was working on local campaigns, was listed in the court proceedings as having submitted a letter on Marshall’s behalf.
“Mike, I think, had a lapse in judgment here,” he said. “I don’t think it’s something that will happen again.”
When asked if Marshall would be welcomed as a volunteer on future Democratic campaigns in Clark County, Bottorff did not answer directly.
“The Democratic Party is committed to always make sure every person in Indiana that can vote, has the right to vote,” he said. “It’s my view that the Democratic Party is the party that is not only trying to help working men and women in America, but is helping them to have a voice in the people that represent them.”
He explained that he believes the aforementioned belief is similar to one that Marshall carries. Bottorff added that if Marshall did desire to work for the Democratic party locally, he would “make absolutely clear that what he was doing was legal.”