The Capital Journal has more on the odd story about the woman charged in the nearly 2-decade old petition fraud trial.
And there’s far more to the story, as you might have assumed:
Howe pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of perjury for vouching before a notary public that she witnessed signatures on petitions she gathered in 1999. In exchange for her guilty plea, prosecutors from the attorney general’s office dropped seven other similar counts.
Howe was hired by a Libertarian group, “Justice Unlimited,” in 1999 to gather signatures to pass an amendment to the South Dakota constitution to protect the “rights of accused persons,” according to the affidavit of probable cause by investigators in 2002 when she was charged by the attorney general’s office.
Sara Rabern, spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, said the statute of limitations on prosecuting a crime doesn’t apply once someone is charged.
Howe does have a history of other criminal charges for which she hadn’t been made to answer until this summer.
She also pleaded guilty Tuesday during the same hearing, in a deal with the Hughes County prosecutor, to one count of forging checks in 2000 while working as a nurse for a Texas company in Pierre.
Hughes County State’s Attorney Wendy Kloeppner asked Judge Brown not to allow Howe to be released from jail unless she posted $13,000, about what she owes from the 2001 forgery case.
“The most egregious thing is the fact that Ms. Howe was on probation and didn’t do anything on her probation,” Kloeppner said, citing the fact Howe didn’t pay any of her required monthly restitution checks of $250, didn’t stay employed and quit checking in with her probation office.
“Her track record . . . with the court would indicate if she were to get released, she would abscond,” Kloeppner said.