Atlanta

Georgia GOP Vice Chairman voted 9 times while serving felony sentence, court record shows

ATLANTA — Georgia Republican Party Vice Chairman Brian K. Pritchard was found to have violated Georgia’s election laws, a judge from the Office of State Administrative Hearings ruled Wednesday.

According to court records, the State Election Board filed in court to sanction Pritchard after it was found he had voted illegally, due to his status as a convicted felon serving a period of probation.

In Georgia, Pritchard campaigned and was elected to serve as the first Georgia GOP vice chairman in 2023.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, one of Georgia’s Republican lawmakers in U.S. Congress, has called on Pritchard to resign from his position, saying online that he voted illegally nine times and that the Republican Party is the party of election integrity.

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Pritchard was previously found guilty of several counts of felony check forgery dating back to his time living in Pennsylvania in the late 1990s. The case began in May 1995 when Pritchard was accused of forging checks after endorsing checks made out to himself and others, then “wrongly depositing” the funds into his bank account, according to records.

Pritchard pled guilty in May 1996, according to court records cited by the state of Georgia in the OSAH hearing.

The case led to his being ordered to pay restitution in Pennsylvania, as well as spend three years on probation.

Court findings show Pritchard’s probation was revoked after he entered a series of false statements in court and denied knowledge of being ordered to pay restitution.

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“The year 1999 would have marked the end of the Respondent’s three-year probation sentence handed down in 1996. Certified records from the Allegheny court, however, indicate the Respondent appeared in court with counsel on March 18, 1999, for the revocation of his probation. The certified records showed that Judge McGregor ultimately imposed a new three-year probationary sentence effective March 18, 1999. The Respondent would be supervised by the Northampton County probation office, though he would remain in ‘non reporting’ status,” according to Georgia court records from OSAH.

He also violated probation requirements of reporting his residence after moving first to North Carolina, then Georgia in 1999, according to court records.

“The Respondent also testified he did not recall his probation being ‘extended’ during that court appearance, nor did he recall a discussion about restitution. Rather, he stated that Judge McGregor had informed him the matter was a ‘civil judgment,’ and that the judge ‘did not want the matter in his court any longer.’ Nothing in the certified court records from March 18, 1999, reflects the judge ever making such a statement or issuing an order to that effect,” the record states.

In 2002, Pritchard’s renewed three year probation sentence from 1999 would have concluded, but his probation was revoked again and a new sentence imposed “for cause shown.” His probation was expanded by another two years, with a condition of paying between $40 and $50 per month and reporting in by phone.

Again, the probation was revoked in 2004, also “for cause shown,” according to records, this time for again having a “non reporting” probation status.

Records indicate Pritchard again told the court that he not only did not appear in court but did not have counsel, despite certified court records contradicting his statement.

In 2008, while still serving his probation for the felony forgery counts, Pritchard completed a registration form with Gilmer County, Ga.’s Board of Elections. In that registration, he signed the form, signifying that he affirmed he was “not serving a sentence for having been convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude.”

When pressed on that assertion, he told the court he did not believe he had remaining years of probation on his sentence in 2008 and that he believed his last involvement with any Pennsylvania criminal matter was finished in March 1999, despite the probation revocations in 2002 and 2004, records show.

Between 2008 and 2009, Pritchard voted in nine separate Georgia elections in Gilmer County.

In 2011, Pritchard was in a probation violation hearing, where he filed that defense counsel was waived, according to court records.

At the hearing, Pritchard’s initials showed he confirmed that if he continued to be fined for allegations of probation violation and not paying restitution, he could face time in jail. He returned to Pennsylvania court in 2011 because he had been getting calls about still owing money, where he also confirmed signing the documents about restitution and potential jail time.

He told the court he had signed the form “to show he showed up” and that he did not believe or was aware that his probation was again about to be revoked. He further stated to the court that he did not believe he owed additional money by 2011, nor that he was still serving a felony sentence at that time.

“Thus, the probative evidence before this Court does not show that the Respondent’s sentence for the 1996 conviction extended past April 2011,” court records show.

The Gilmer County Board of Elections received a complaint alleging that Pritchard had been voting while serving a felony sentence in 2014, and submitted a request to have his name removed from voter rolls, according to court records. He again said that he did not believe he had been serving a felony sentence.

In 2017, Pritchard applied to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to restore his civil and political rights, as well as the right to bear arms, according to court records.

“He testified that his application included his date of conviction in the Allegheny court in 1996, three letters of reference, and a written section explaining what the convictions had done to his life. However, he could not recall whether he included information about his sentences associated with his convictions. About seven months after submitting the application, the Respondent traveled to Woodstock, Georgia, for an interview with an individual from Pardons and Paroles,” records state.

On Nov. 8, 2017, the Board of Pardons and Paroles ordered his rights be restored, saying the sentence had been served and expired.

“The order stated the sentence from the 1996 convictions was for three years’ probation, handed down on May 15, 1996. It also stated, ‘Case Closed 5/14/1999,’” records say.

However, “nowhere in the order does Pardons and Paroles make a finding as to exactly when the Respondent’s sentences had been fully served or otherwise expired. And when asked on cross examination, the Respondent stated he had no personal knowledge as to how Pardons and Paroles concluded his case had ‘closed’ in 1999,” the OSAH said.

However, “nowhere in the order does Pardons and Paroles make a finding as to exactly when the Respondent’s sentences had been fully served or otherwise expired. And when asked on cross examination, the Respondent stated he had no personal knowledge as to how Pardons and Paroles concluded his case had ‘closed’ in 1999,” the OSAH said.

Separately, the Georgia Board of Elections Investigations Division was looking into the complaint that Pritchard had voted while serving a felony sentence, after signing documents saying he was not.

“The Investigations Division ultimately concluded that (i) the Respondent had been convicted in Pennsylvania of two felony forgery charges and one felony charge of theft by taking; (ii) he had been sentenced in 1996 to three years’ probation; (iii) his probation had been revoked multiple times between 1999 and 2011; and (iv) during the times he was serving his felony sentence, he registered to vote in 2008 and then voted in elections between 2008 and 2011,” the judge wrote.

The completed report from the Investigation Divisions was provided to the Board of Feb. 10, 2021 and they voted to bind the case to the Office of the Attorney General and the Gilmer County District Attorney’s Office. On Dec. 1, 2022, it was referred to the OSAH for adjudication.

The Board proved Pritchard had violated Georgia election law when registering to vote in 2008, according to OSAH, due to having pled guilty to the felony counts in question in Pennsylvania in 1996, then repeatedly having his probation extended/revoked for violating its terms through at least 2011.

The court concluded he violated election law and was therefore due sanctions.

To that end, citing the “importance [of] ensuring the integrity of Georgia’s voting process,” the court sanctioned Pritchard, filing a cease-and-desist order to cease any and all violations of Georgia law, as well as pay a $500 civil penalty for each vote from 2008 to 2010, as well as to pay the costs of the investigation into the voting complaints by the Board of Elections.

In total, he was ordered to pay $5,000 to the Board as well as their $375.14 in investigative costs. Pritchard will also be required to receive a public reprimand for his conduct.

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