A Philadelphia political consultant was arrested Wednesday for charges related to forging signatures on political nomination petitions to get his clients on the ballot for the 2019 Democratic primary in Philadelphia.
Rasheen Crews, 46, was the subject of an investigation by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General that started in September 2019. It is not clear why the charges are coming three years later. According to a criminal complaint, the investigation happened largely in the spring of 2021.
The investigation happened under Pennsylvania Governor-elect Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, who is still the state attorney general until the end of the year.
The investigation found that in 2019, multiple candidates allegedly hired Crews to help them get the required number of signatures needed for their nomination petitions to get on the ballot for Democratic primary races.
Signatures must be from citizens who live in the area a candidate will represent. The number of needed signatures varies, depending on which office a candidate seeks. Competing candidates often scrutinize the signatures to see if any should be removed.
Crews allegedly recruited individuals to help with the petition work, bringing them to a hotel room and asking them to write names, addresses, and forged signatures on multiple petitions, according to the Attorney General’s office. He then allegedly had these petitions notarized and filed with the Pennsylvania Department of State on behalf of his clients.
Over 1,000 Signatures Deemed Duplicated
Of the petitions that were reviewed, over 1,000 signatures were determined to be duplicated. Many names and addresses were found repeated on various petition pages, some pages appeared to be photocopied entirely, and some of the listed individuals claimed to have never signed the petitions.
Because of the questions around the petition signatures, some candidates chose to withdraw from the election, according to the Attorney General’s office.
Crews was charged with criminal solicitation to commit forgery and theft by failure to make required disposition.
“In advance of the 2023 municipal elections, this arrest is an important reminder that interfering with the integrity of our elections is a serious crime,” Shapiro said in a press release.
“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. My office is dedicated to upholding the integrity of the election process across the Commonwealth, to ensure everyone can participate in Pennsylvania’s future.”
This matter is being prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Thomas Ost-Prisco.