CANTON, MS (WLBT) - A status hearing was held Monday morning for three of the nine individuals facing charges in Canton’s ongoing voter fraud scandal.
A bench warrant was initially issued for Canton Board of Aldermen member Andrew Grant, who failed to appear in court. He is charged with voter fraud and conspiracy. Grant made his appearance late Monday morning, so the bench warrant was rescinded.
Judge Dewey Arthur, presiding over the status hearing, said, “If you’ve decided that you have an offer that you can live with and you want to plead guilty, today’s the day.”
Among them was Courtney Rainey, the Director of Human and Cultural Needs for Canton and a member of the School Board.
Rainey’s attorney Carlos Tanner says she did not plead guilty and does not plan to.
Tanner said, “Today’s question was whether or not a plea agreement had been offered, and none has been offered. But the DA’s office represented to the court that they are gonna get us a plea agreement. I guess that is a part of the process, but you know my client at this point, she’s wanting to fight these charges. She doesn’t believe that they have validity.”
Valerie Smith, the former City Clerk for Canton who retired in December, was also in court Monday morning. Appearing with her Attorney Dennis Sweet, she did not plead guilty. Smith is charged with violation of voter registration statutes. They did not make a statement when leaving the hearing.
Rainey’s attorney says he wants more information on the charges against his client. Rainey was indicted on multiple charges of voter fraud and intimidating a witness in December. She was indicted again in February.
Tanner said, “Based on what we have gotten, a ham sandwich, not withstanding. Based on what we’ve been given, I don’t see how they even got an indictment. Thus far, we’ve asked the court to order them to give us more discovery, stuff that actually we can use to defend her.”
Those appearing Monday have been given a deadline of Friday to enter a guilty plea in the case. Trials are set to begin April 22.
Donnell Robinson, who was indicted in December on charges of voter fraud and voting by an unqualified person, also appeared in court on Monday.