Berkeley Mayor Theodore "Ted" Hoskins has been charged with five felony counts of election fraud.
A special prosecutor, Jean Peters Baker, announced charges Thursday that allege Hoskins tampered with absentee ballots for a municipal election in April 2018.
He is accused of filling out absentee ballot applications for voters and having his campaign workers do the same. He is also accused of altering absentee ballots. Hoskins faces 25 years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines if convicted.
St. Louis County Prosecutor Attorney Wesley Bell sought the special prosecutor to work in connection with an FBI investigation into Hoskins. Baker is the prosecutor in Jackson County, which includes a portion of Kansas City.
Hoskins pursued absentee votes as a strategy to help get him and his allies elected to positions on the city council in past elections, according to court documents.
Hoskins has served as the mayor of the north St. Louis County municipality for about seven and a half years. He narrowly won a second term in 2016, defeating Babatunde Deinbo by 13 votes.
Charging documents describe Hoskins going to the home of two elderly Berkeley residents twice in spring 2018 and asking them to sign forms. They signed their names as requested but did not understand that they were signing election-related documents, according to the charging documents.
The St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners received completed absentee ballots in March 2018 from those residents. But when the couple was interviewed afterward and shown copies of the ballots, both stated that they had not voted in the April 2018 election, according to the documents.
Hoskins' wife, Lee Etta, ran for Berkeley’s First Ward council seat in that election. She defeated Willie Mae “Woody” Harris, 87 votes to 39.
In an April 2018 interview with investigators, Hoskins said he had only worked to get his wife elected and had little interaction with other municipal campaigns. He also told investigators that he twice mailed absentee ballots for voters but only after receiving their written consent. When asked to provide that written consent, he said he had thrown the documents in the trash.
The charging documents include an account of a Hoskins associate altering a ballot by marking additional selections.
Phone calls to a number listed on Hoskins’ state campaign finance documents were not answered.
MORE: Read the charging documents
Correction: An early version of a headline for this story misspelled Theodore "Ted" Hoskins' name.
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Rachel Lippmann contributed to this report
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