College board candidate faces felony counts for allegedly forging election documents
A DuPage County woman is charged with forging petitions to get on the College of DuPage Board of Trustees, according to a recent county state's attorney announcement.
Rafath Waheed, 61, was charged with two counts of forgery, two counts of issuing a forged document and four counts of perjury.
The Edgar County Watchdogs began following the story in January, when two College of DuPage trustee candidates' petitions were challenged by Ed Franckowiak of West Chicago and Lori Solyom of Lombard. Husna Ghani and Waheed's petition packets allegedly had errors that would remove the two candidates from the ballot.
Ghani's primary error was failing to number the petition pages and neglecting to specify the two-year term. The objections to Waheed's petition packet were more serious; she allegedly photocopied two of the documents, which were then sworn to as originals and notarized. Pages one and four, and two and three, appeared to be duplicates, with the same names and signatures. Waheed also failed to provide a Statement of Candidacy.
The Edgar County Watchdogs questioned whether the duplicates would be considered forgeries, as the candidate had sworn that the signatures were signed in her presence. Waheed submitted a total of seven pages with 77 signatures in her packet. Franckowiak's objection noted that once the duplicated pages were removed from the packet, the valid signatures dropped from 77 to 53. In addition, his objection noted that 13 signatories did not live with the College of DuPage district boundaries and another three were not registered voters at the addresses shown on the petition. After removing those signatures, the number of presumably valid signatures dropped to 37. A minimum of 50 signatures is mandatory under 110 ILCS 805/3-7.10.
The objection also pointed out the fraud and urged the Election Board to forward the information to the authorities. It quoted from Fortas v. Dixon and pointed out a later court decision from Huskey v. Municipal Officers Electoral Board for Village of Oak Lawn that ruled the Electoral Board could look for further evidence and take action.
"When in the course of hearing objections to nominating papers, evidence beyond specific objections comes to the electoral board’s attention, it cannot close its eyes and ears if evidence is relevant to the protection of the electoral process," the court said in Fortas v. Dixon.
After the Election Board hearing on Waheed's petition packet was held on Jan. 10, the Edgar County Watchdogs followed up in a Jan. 14 article in Illinois Leaks. During the hearing, Waheed first denied photocopying the petition pages, and then admitted to the action. Before the hearing ended, Waheed read a prepared statement, withdrawing from the race.
The Electoral Board heard Ghani's case on Jan. 19. A board examiner determined her petition only contained 37 valid signatures. The board ruled she would not appear on the April 4 ballot.
While Ghani's run at a seat on the College of DuPage Board of Trustees ended with the Electoral Board's decision, Waheed is facing criminal charges. DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin announced on March 16 that Waheed had been charged with six felonies concerning her nominating petition package.
“The bedrock of our entire system of government is free and fair elections,” Berlin said in a press release. “It is alleged that Mrs. Waheed, in an effort to win a seat on the COD Board of Trustees, attempted to circumvent one of the basic requirements for candidacy – filing petitions with the correct number of authentic signatures. I would like to thank investigator Jim Duffy as well as Assistant State’s Attorney Diane Michalak for their work on this case.”
The arrest warrant was issued on March 14. Waheed turned herself in and posted $1,000, 10 percent of the $10,000 bond, and was released. She will appear before Judge Liam Brennan on April 12. She faces two counts of forgery, two of issuing a forged document and four of perjury – all Class 3 felonies.
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Edgar County, IL, United States