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Wednesday, January 11, 2006 

Kerry Workers' Tire-Slashing Trial Begins

Fourteen months after John Kerry narrowly carried Wisconsin in the 2004 presidential election amidst allegations of voter fraud, five campaign workers for the Kerry-Edwards campaign team are set for trial Tuesday in Milwaukee on felony charges of damage to property.

The "Milwaukee Five” is charged with slashing 40 tires on 25 separate Republican vehicles on the morning of the 2004 presidential election. The vehicles were rented by the Wisconsin Republican Party to transport less-mobile voters to the polls on Election Day. In total, the vandals disabled 25 percent of the Republican Party’s "Get Out the Vote” fleet.

The defendants include Sowande Ajumoke Omokunde, the son of Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wisc.) who also goes by the name Supreme Solar Allah; Michael Pratt, the son of former Milwaukee Mayor Marvin Pratt and leader of Kerry’s campaign team in Milwaukee; Lewis Caldwell; Lavelle Mohammed, and Justin Howell.

According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, four of the defendants were paid operatives of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, including Omokunde and Pratt.

Court TV will cover the trial, which is expected to last two weeks. Potential witnesses include Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), national AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, and 77 others – including FBI agents, Milwaukee police officers, and party activists from both parties.

The five defendants, who will be tried together, are charged with criminal damage to property, a felony with maximum sentences of 3 1/2 years in prison or $10,000 in fines.

The criminal complaint states that Opel Simmons, a Democratic campaign worker from Virginia, identified the defendants as the perpetrators, and told police they had named their plan "Operation Elephant Takeover.”

Simmons told Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney David Feiss that he saw the defendants dressed in "Mission Impossible type gear” at Democratic Party headquarters sometime around 3 a.m. on the morning of the election.

When Simmons asked the five what they were planning, defendant Lavelle Mohammed allegedly responded, "You don’t want to know, don’t ask.”

The defendants returned to Democratic headquarters approximately 20 minutes later. Simmons told investigators they were jubilant and shared details of their vandalism spree with him. "We got ‘em,” said Pratt. "We hit the tires.”

The tire-slashing incident is just one of a number of election-day irregularities in Wisconsin, a state where Kerry prevailed by only 11,384 votes.

Questions have been raised about the inordinately large volume of Election Day registrations in Milwaukee, where 84,000 people in a city of 600,000 registered at the polls on the day of the election. The total represented 30 percent of all voters in the city.

Milwaukee city officials admitted in January 2005 that around 10,000 same-day registrations could not be verified, leaving open the possibility of fraud.

An investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that another 1,200 Milwaukeeans voted using invalid addresses. Another article revealed in late January 2005 that there were 7,000 more votes than voters in Milwaukee, suggesting ballot-stuffing in the Democrat-controlled city. (NewsMax)

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