September 20, 2012
Feda Morton, a high school teacher who once undertook a failed bid for Congress pleaded guilty to election fraud in a Fluvanna County court on Thursday.
Morton pleaded guilty to a felony charge of falsifying a campaign document.
The investigation centered around a petition filed on behalf of a candidate for Commissioner of Revenue in Fluvanna County in 2011. Prosecutors in the case say Morton submitted a petition of signatures claiming she personally collected all of them, but had only collected about half.
As part of a plea agreement, the judge in the case will keep that charge under advisement until a hearing next September. Under the agreement, Morton is to perform 150 hours of community service and is not allowed to have anything to do with any campaign or election.
If Morton successfully completes a year this probation, her charge will be reduced to a misdemeanor communicating false information to a voter, and she will have to pay a $1,000 fine and shall not participate in any electoral functions or campaigns for another two years.
As the judge has the case under advisement, Morton has not been convicted of a felony and will still be eligible to vote in the November's election.
Greene County Commonwealth's Attorney Ronald Morris served as a special prosecutor in the case. He said the agreement sends a message that election fraud will not be tolerated by the state.
Morris says the candidate for Commissioner of Revenue had more than the 120 signatures required to get on the ballot, and even if the signatures Morton collected were thrown out it would have not affected the race.
Virginia election law states people collecting signatures for candidates must swear they personally witnessed voters signing the petition.
Morton unsuccessfully ran for the Republican nomination in the 5th District House of Representatives in 2010.