If you've lived in the great state of Louisiana for any amount of time or are at least aware of some of our political history, you know it sometimes can be a spectator sport.

Cue the good ole political leaders in Amite.

The United States Department of Justice announced yesterday (7/21) that the former Amite City Police Chief and a current Amite City councilmember pleaded guilty to violating federal election laws.

72-year-old Jerry Trabona and 49-year-old Kristian "Kris" Hart pleaded guilty to conspiring to pay and offering to pay voters residing in Tangipahoa Parish for voting in the 2016 open primary election and the 2016 open general election.

According to reports, "Trabona and Hart admitted that they agreed with each other and others to pay or offer to pay voters during contests in which the defendants were candidates, and in which federal candidates appeared on the same ballot."

Hart has also pled guilty to three counts of paying and offering to pay voters in the 2020 elections as well. In both the 2016 and 2020 elections, he was running for the seat he currently holds on the Amite City Council.

“The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that illegal voting, including vote buying, has no place in our nation’s electoral system,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

Both men are scheduled to be sentenced on November 1 and face up to five years in prison on each count.

“We must have fair elections, free from the taint of corruption, to ensure a fully functional government,” stated U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans for the Eastern District of Louisiana. “Safeguarding the voting process is of paramount importance to our office and the Department of Justice.”

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