Seven Indicted In Lottery Petition Drive
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ Two state senators were among seven people charged with election fraud felonies Monday in a failed drive to put a statewide lottery proposal on the November ballot.
Sen. Bernice Labedz of Omaha and Sen. James Pappas of North Platte were charged Monday with falsely swearing that they circulated petitions. Pappas also was charged with circulating an initiative petition in a county in which he was not qualified.
State law requires circulators and signers of initiative petitions to be registered voters, and bars payments to those who help gather signatures.
The petition drive started in the spring, when Mrs. Labedz, Pappas and state Sen. John DeCamp of Neligh formed The Nebraska Taxpayers Lottery Committee-86, which petitioned to put before voters a constitutional amendment compelling the state Legislature to establish a state lottery.
They gathered upwards of 50,000 signatures by the July deadline for filing the proposal, but enough signatures were disqualified to keep the initiative off the ballot.
The only person charged in the case before Monday was a former aide to Pappas, Kimberly Peters of Lincoln, who was accused of forging signatures on petition documents.
Also charged was Walter Radcliffe, an attorney and the state’s highest-paid lobbyist in 1985, accused of two counts of hiring and paying a circulator, and one count of falsely swearing to the signature of a circulator.
Radcliffe was also charged with two misdemeanor counts of violating the state’s political accountability and disclosure law.
She told authorities that Radcliffe gave her $1,400 in cash for her work in gathering signatures.
Felony charges were also filed against Marc Fellman, an attorney, and lobbyist Marleen McCullough of Grant, who has worked for the state Democratic Party.
Authorities in Sarpy County filed charges against William Katzman and Joseph A. Monastero. Both were charged with multiple counts of falsely swearing on an initiative petition.
Fellman, Katzman and Monastero are officers of Lottery Consultants of Nebraska Inc., which reported contributions of $18,500 to the petition campaign.
Attorney General Robert Spire said more people will be charged in the investigation that began during the petition certification procedure.