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Immigrant Convicted in Campaign Funding / Identity Theft Scheme

A jury in Multnomah County Oregon says a Ukrainian immigrant forged signatures and stole identities to help his candidates take hundreds of thousands of dollars from the public campaign finance system.

Under Portland's campaign finance system, candidates who collect $5 contributions and signatures from 1,000 people get $150,000 in taxpayer money to run their campaigns. The idea is to encourage newcomers to run for office while limiting the influence of big-money donors.

Vladimir Golovan, 33, immigrated to the United States in 1998 and became politically active several years ago. In the summer of 2005, he met City Council candidate Bruce Broussard, who told him about the city's new public financing program.

Later, Golovan helped three candidates meet the thousand-signature threshold but authorities became suspicious after an investigation by The Oregonian last year. The investigation revealed that contribution sheets contained several instances in which one person appeared to have signed for several. When interviewed, people whose names appeared on the list said they had no knowledge of having made donations and in most cases did not recognize the candidate's name or Golovanís.

After receiving the taxpayer money, Lucinda Tate paid Golovan $15,000 for his efforts in collecting almost all of the 1,000 signatures she needed. Moreover, Golovan, under oath, acknowledged that he did not collect any money for Emilie Boyles but gave her $5,000 from his own bank account.

During the trial, prosecutor Erik Wasmann said Golovan "found and exploited the loopholes in a flawed system" for his own gain. He was accused of lying about collecting donations for Boyles and lying about collecting both signatures and money for Lucinda Tate.
Golavan testified that he had permission from the people whose signatures he copied. But the defense presented no witnesses to verify that, and seven immigrants testified that someone forged their signatures on Tate's donor list without their approval.

Golovan also acknowledged forging signatures and having volunteers forge signatures for Tate. Tate spent three months gathering 650 signatures and donations when she turned to Golovan. Within a week, he gave her 450 names.

Not the only incident of immigrant interference in U.S. elections.

According to a report in the World Net Daily, Richard Valdemar, a retired sergeant with the L.A. County sheriff's department and a longtime member of a federal task force investigating gang activity said last year that Mexican drug cartels rig elections to take over U.S. cities . He cited first-hand experience in investigating attempts to take over seven cities in Los Angeles County.

Pakistani immigrant Abdul Rehman Jinnah made the FBI's most wanted list last year after he was charged with conspiracy and illegal campaign contributions to several United States federal and state politicians in 2006.

Last week Golovan was convicted on 10 felony charges, all related to his work on the Tate campaign. His sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 4, and he is free in the meantime.

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