Mark McCann

MARK MCCANN - Howard County Prosecutor.

Charges will not be pressed against a local business owner who, earlier this year, was accused of voter fraud.

Allen Wilson, the owner of Competition Towing and Recovery, faced the Howard County Election Board in June after a complaint to the board revealed Wilson registered to vote from his place of business instead of his residence.

That complaint resulted in the board forwarding information concerning Wilson’s voter registration to the Howard County Prosecutor’s Office, where a decision would be reached on whether to charge Wilson with a crime. Last week Howard County Prosecutor Mark McCann said criminal charges would not be pressed against Wilson.

“Our office has reviewed information provided in relation to Mr. Wilson, and no charges are being filed by the Howard County Prosecutor’s Office,” said McCann.

McCann’s reasoning for not filing charges mirrored a defense put forth by Wilson’s attorney, Brent Dechert, during the June election board meeting. McCann said there was “insufficient evidence to show an intent to defraud.”

In June, Dechert made the case that Wilson’s vote in the primary election, which had indeed been carried out by Wilson registering to vote from his Kokomo business, did not meet the criminal threshold because Wilson lacked intent in his false registration. While the complaint against Wilson, filed by Athena Sinnett, claimed the business owner lived outside the city limits, citing a former address, Dechert said his client in fact lived within Kokomo.

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“Fraud requires some sort of intentional perversion of the truth and some sort of intent on his part to defraud the community or defraud the election board, somehow get around election laws and vote for a person in an election he wasn’t permitted to vote in because of his residence at the time,” said Dechert. “The fact of the matter is Mr. Wilson is, and has been, a resident of the city of Kokomo for more than three years. And he certainly was able to vote in our elections had he registered at his actual residence, which he didn’t, again, which was a mistake.”

A previous registration by Wilson also was made with him claiming his home address was his place of business. Even though the first registration was rejected by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, this registration made it through local systems, and Wilson cast a ballot in this year’s Primary Election. That ballot later was invalidated by the election board, which collectively cited a need to “protect the integrity of the election” in forwarding the information to the prosecutor. The three-member board voted unanimously to do so.

While Wilson awaited the June hearings, his business took a hit. In May the Kokomo Board of Public Works suspended Competition Towing and Recovery from the city’s towing call rotation, citing the investigation by the election board.

After the June meeting of the election board, Wilson said he’d been forced to lay off employees due to the loss of the city contract.

In a comment provided after McCann announced charges would not be filed, Dechert said Wilson remained hopeful the city would reinstate its contract with Competition Towing and Recovery.

“I am obviously pleased but also not surprised by the decision,” said Dechert. “Mr. Wilson is hopeful that the City of Kokomo will now reinstate his towing contract and that his business will be able to recover from the losses it has needlessly suffered.“