A political consultant faces a possible 38-year prison term after being convicted of gathering forged signatures on petitions that put Pete du Pont on the state's Republican presidential primary ballot.
Rocky Mountain and his Southern Political Consulting Inc. each were convicted Wednesday on 38 counts of misdemeanor forgery for directing workers to put phony signatures, including those of two dead people, on the petitions that qualified the former Delaware governor for the March primary.For each count, the 27-year-old Mountain faces fines of up to $2,000 and one year in prison. Southern Political Consulting faces fines of up to $10,000 per count for a potential total of $380,000.
The punishment phase was set for Thursday.
Prosecutors said Mountain staged a Dec. 19 "forgery party" at his Houston office, complete with beer for underage drinkers, to get the signatures needed for du Pont.
Jurors deliberated almost four hours before reaching the verdict. Mountain said he was disappointed but reserved further comment until after sentencing.
He stood motionless as Harris County Court-at-Law Judge Sherman Ross read the long series of guilty verdicts. Kevin Burnette, president of Southern Political, stood with his arms folded and eyes looking down as Ross read the verdicts against the firm.
Mountain, a vice president of the Houston-based firm, was hired by the du Pont campaign to gather the 5,000 signatures needed to get on the ballot.
In convicting Mountain, jurors rejected the defense argument that he ordered temporary workers to sign phony signatures only because he had been goaded by a du Pont official for being unable to collect legitimate ones.
Mountain testified he never intended for the du Pont campaign to submit the phony petitions.