Benton Harbor activist charged with forgery turns himself in to - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Benton Harbor activist charged with forgery turns himself in to authorities

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A Benton Harbor community activist turned himself in to authorities Friday morning after forgery charges were filed against him in connection with the city's May 6 special mayoral recall election.

The Berrien County Prosecutor's office charged organizer Rev. Edward Pinkney, 65, earlier in the week with five counts of election forgery for allegedly changing the original dates on signatures on his petition to recall Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower, to newer dates in time. These charges are said to punishable with up to five years of prison time. He has also been charged with six counts of allowing someone to sign a recall petition more than once, which is a 90-day misdemeanor, according to Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic.

Sepic says Pinkney has been arraigned and pled not guilty. His bond has been set at $30,000 and he is presently still in police custody. His pre-exam conference to see if his case can be resolved without trial is set for May 2. If the case cannot be resolved, his preliminary exam will be held on May 6.

Also charged in connection with the recall is 59-year-old James Cornelius, with one count of having someone sign the recall petition more than once and allowing someone to sign the petition without his presence.

Sepic said he has been in communication with the Berrien County Clerk's office, which is currently determining how these charges will affect the special recall election.. The original petition to recall Mayor Hightower was submitted on January 8 and approved. Currently, Benton Harbor City Commissioner Marcus Muhammad is slated to run against Mayor Hightower in a special election for the mayoral seat on May 6.

FOX28's Mario Gonzalez was able to reach Rev. Pinkney on the phone Friday. Pinkney said he didn't want to speak to the media at this time, but did say he would speak to the media on Tuesday at 11:00am.
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