Russell Grant, facing 10 charges of voting fraud related to his 2009 election to the Gonzales City Council, was given a second chance Thursday morning during a pretrial hearing at the Gonzales County Courthouse.
“Mr. Grant has been referred to the Gonzales County Probation Department for pretrial diversion,” Gonzales County District Attorney Heather McMinn said. “We cannot make any additional comment at this time.”
Pretrial diversion, or pretrial intervention, is basically a second chance for a first-time offender and an opportunity to wipe the slate clean.
Pretrial diversion is very similar to probation in that a person’s actions are monitored for a designated period of time. If the person abides by the rules agreed upon by his or her attorney, the district attorney and the probation department, then at the end of that time period, the charges are dismissed and there is no conviction.
It’s like nothing ever happened.
If the rules are not followed, however, then the person is sent straight back to court for a sentencing hearing.
Grant was indicted on charges of voter fraud in a 2009 election. On Feb. 25, the 25th Judicial District Court served the indictment on ten counts of providing false information on an application for early voting.
This was the fourth trial date for Grant, whose original date was April 21. From there, it was reset to May 26, then to July 20 and finally Aug. 25.
On Feb. 25, Grant and council candidate Rev. Charles Roaches were both indicted on charges that stemmed from voter fraud in a 2009 election. The 25th Judicial District Court served the indictment on 14 counts of providing false information on an application for early voting.
The investigation stemmed from allegations by citizens of District 1 that both Grant and Roaches gave misleading information regarding mail-in ballots provided for citizens. Mail-in ballots are for those who are 65 years of age or older, disabled, out of the county on election day or confined to jail but otherwise eligible to vote.
Grant was indicted on 10 counts, and Roaches was handed four counts.
Roaches was then given his pretrial diversion.
Grant held the District 2 seat on the Gonzales City Council and resigned his position in Feb. 2010. Then he admitted to “voter misconduct” and agreed to abstain from public office as well as cooperate with authorities in the investigation. He won the seat in 2008 and was ultimately replaced by councilman Tommy Schurig, who finished second in voting during that election.
Councilman Gary Schroeder and Roaches were vying for the District 1 seat with Roaches as a write-in candidate for the Mat 2009 election. Schroeder won the election and was sworn in office in June 2009 along with Grant.
According to published reports in 2009, both candidates submitted 102 total mail-in ballots, 100 of those being from Roaches. 83 percent of Roaches ballots were marked as coming from disabled persons.
The District Attorney did not look into the election of 2008 for any wrongdoings and McMinn sent a letter to area residents stating that her office would not pursue investigating that said election.
The Gonzales County Probation Department stated that from here, Grant is supposed to set up an interview for his pretrial diversion, and provisions will be made during that interview. The date of the interview has not been set.