RACINE — A 59-year-old Racine man appeared in circuit court on Tuesday on charges of election fraud.
Mark S. Demet, of the 2400 block of Arlington Avenue, is accused of falsely signing the names of people to recall petitions for state Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine.
He faces two counts of election fraud and seven of felony personal ID theft. If convicted of all charges he faces a maximum penalty of 49 years in prison or a $90,000 fine, or both.
Court Commissioner Alice Rudebusch said the criminal complaint provided enough evidence to justify the charges against Demet. She set a $2,000 signature bond.
The next step will be a preliminary hearing on March 29. At that proceeding the state must provide enough evidence for a judge or court commissioner to believe that a crime probably occurred and that Demet probably committed it. If cause is found, Demet’s case will move to arraignment, at which he will plead guilty or not guilty to the charges, and then toward trial.
After the hearing Demet declined to comment. His attorney, Patrick Cafferty, told The Journal Times that his client is not affiliated with either main political party, has never been involved in politics in any way, and has no criminal record.
Demet “is a good, decent, hard-working citizen,” Cafferty said.
Court documents say Demet admitted to an investigator that he circulated the petition pages in question and signed the names of other people. Although initial reports said Demet forged the signatures of two family members on recall petitions, neither of those names is in the complaint issued by the Racine County District Attorney’s Office.
Six people listed on recall petitions told sheriff’s investigators they did not sign. One of them also said a name appearing on the recall petition was that of her dead husband.
The petition sheets also carried Demet’s signature. As the circulator of those pages he testified to the accuracy of the information they contained.