Current Pennsylvania Attorney General and Democrat Governor-elect Josh Shapiro arrested a former political consultant on Wednesday for allegedly forging ballot signatures in the state's 2019 Democratic primary races.
Rasheen Crews, a Democratic campaign consultant, was hired by multiple candidates to assist in gathering the required number of signatures for nomination petitions to run in the Democratic primary races in 2019.
According to an investigation launched by the office of the attorney general in September 2019, Crews was charged with the "wide scale forgery of signatures" on his clients' nomination petitions.
The investigation involved several of Crews' clients, including five candidates running for the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, three running for Philadelphia Municipal Court, and three running in both elections.
Crews allegedly enlisted individuals to assist in his petition work by having them write names and addresses and forge signatures on multiple petitions. He is then accused of having the petitions notarized and filed with the Pennsylvania Department of State.
Shapiro, who has been critical of Republicans who have questioned election integrity and repeatedly denied voter fraud in Pennsylvania, said in a Wednesday statement that Crews' arrest is "an important reminder that interfering with the integrity of our elections is a serious crime."
"By soliciting and organizing the wide scale forgery of signatures, the defendant undermined the democratic process and Philadelphians' right to a free and fair election," Shapiro said. "My office is dedicated to upholding the integrity of the election process across the Commonwealth, to ensure everyone can participate in Pennsylvania's future."
The investigation discovered that more than 1,000 of the signatures were allegedly duplicates. The office of the attorney general found that many of the names and addresses were repeated on several petition pages, while other pages appeared to be photocopied. Additionally, some individuals listed claimed they never signed the petitions.
All of Crews' clients denied knowledge of the forgery scheme. As a result of the petitions' questionable authenticity, some candidates withdrew from the election.
Crews was charged with criminal solicitation to commit forgery and theft by failure to make required disposition. Senior Deputy Attorney General Thomas Ost-Prisco is prosecuting the case against Crews.