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Four charged after forging thousands of signatures

A ballot petition fraud case has one behind bars and three others facing felony charges.

It happened in Boone County last spring when there was an initiative to get early voting on the ballot.

Keven Hayes is in the Boone County jail for forging hundreds of signatures and he is not the only one accused of this.

Tracy Jones, Danny Lawrence, and Roger Coker all have outstanding warrants for their arrests.

The secretary of state’s investigation along with Boone County investigators found over 1,000 signatures were forged by those four suspects.

The Boone County clerk’s office was the first to notice something was not right with the petitions.

The clerk’s office has several ways to verify voters signatures by comparing voter’s previous signatures and when they realized something was wrong, they quickly alerted the Secretary of State’s office of their findings.

“Our office isn’t aware of a previous time that the Secretary of State’s office has made a referral to a local prosecutor of fraudulent signatures on an initiative petition,” said Secretary of State Jason Kander.

The company that hired Hayes along with Coker, Jones and Lawrence is Buzzard Bay Strategies.

They are a political consulting firm based in Boston.

On Monday ABC 17 New was not able to reach them to learn how they hired those four people, one who is home less according to court records.

Court documents say each petition gatherer was paid between $10-15 an hour, and whoever collected the most signatures would get a bonus.

“My job is to enforce the laws that exist, and the law in Missouri allows for that. So for the me as the chief election official, it is my job to make sure the law is not violated and in this case we believe that it was,” said Kander.

ABC 17 News checked in with the Missouri Ethics Commission on Wednesday.

We found the Missouri Early Voting Fund Committee paid Buzzard Bay Strategies more than $500,000 from January to May of 2014.

The early voting measure did not make it onto the ballot after Kander’s office determined it did not have enough valid signatures to qualify.

The Boone County clerk’s office said the last time there was a successful prosecution in a case like this was in the early ’90s.

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