Four Democrats in South Bend, Ind., were sentenced Monday in a petition fraud case dating back to the 2008 primary election, ABC 57 reports.

The four were found guilty of forging petition signatures to ensure that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton made it onto the state’s primary ballot. The fraud wasn’t uncovered for nearly three years.

Four Indiana Democrats Found Guilty of Petition Fraud

Clockwise: Owen “Butch” Morgan, Pam Burnette, Beverly D. Shelton, and Dustin Blythe. (St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Dept.)

“Butch Morgan was sentenced to one year in prison and one year of community corrections for being the ringleader,” the report notes.

“He’s the only one I asked for an executed sentence and he got an executed sentence,” Prosecutor Stan Levco said.

The only other suspect to stand trial was Dustin Blythe.

“He was sentenced to one year community corrections and 2 years probation,” the report adds.

Beverly Shelton and Pamela Brunette, who were involved in voter registration, plead guilty so as to avoid jail-time. They were sentenced to two years probation.

“In April, a jury convicted Morgan on 4 counts and Blythe on 10 counts. Shelton and Brunette testified during their trial. The four were accused of conspiring to forge signatures on petitions to get Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on Indiana’s 2008 primary ballot,” the South Bend Tribune reports.

“In 2011, our news partners at the South Bend Tribune reported that without the suspected fake signatures, it’s likely Obama and possibly Clinton would not have had enough signatures to be on the state’s primary ballot,” the report adds.

Each defendant must pay a $500 fine and court costs:

Because the case didn’t actually involve cast votes, the judge said he could not classify it as a “voter fraud” scheme. The prosecution agreed.

“What I thought he said and what I agree with is Obama still would have been elected president but in this situation the worst that would have happened is maybe Barack Obama wouldn’t have been on the ballot for the primary. But he lost the primary,” said Levco.

The Saint Joseph County Republican Party weighed in on the matter.

“The public trust was violated. Again I think justice was done in this case and hopefully this will send a message to anyone else who might think of doing something because they better think twice,” said Jake Teshka of the Saint Joseph County Republican Party.

“This isn’t an isolated incident,” he added. “In Indiana, we are seeing many cases stemming from the 2008 election including a case in Jennings County where a former staffer for Democrat Senator Joe Donnelly was convicted after voting other people’s absentee ballots.

“The problem is systemic and the case here in Saint Joseph County is merely a symptom of a broader culture of corruption that Democrats in Indiana have cultivated for decades,” he concluded.

Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

Featured image AP/Shepard Fairey/USA TODAY.

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