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Judge sentences Pinkney to at least 2.5 years for election fraud

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Two and a half years in prison. That's the minimum sentence given to a Southwest Michigan political activist convicted of election fraud.

Edward Pinkney of Benton Township was taken to prison Monday after his conviction.

Pinkney said he did nothing wrong and that he was disappointed in the jury and the system that found him guilty of changing the dates on several recall petitions.

The judge responded by reminding Pinkney he was a habitual offender and then sentenced him to two and a half to ten years in prison.

A large group of protestors chanted and held up signs outside the Berrien County Courthouse today following the sentencing of Pinkney.

Pinkney argued the jury who convicted him of five felony counts of election forgery was wrong and that he was innocent.

"I know I did nothing wrong. And I am very disappointed in the system itself," he said.

Pinkney and his attorney asked the judge for leniency in sentencing, pushing for probation.

However, the prosecution asked the judge to pass on a harsher sentence.

Pinkney's lengthy criminal past had a impact on his sentencing.

His first run in with the law was 1988 for assault with a dangerous weapon out of California, followed in 1990 by a theft conviction out of St. Louis, Missouri, then in 1999 was convicted in Berrien County of embezzlement and in 2007 was convicted 4 felony counts of violating election laws.

This year's case is 5 felonies for election forgery. That brings the total to 12 felonies, with 9 of those related to interference with the election process.

Pinkney served about 18-months in prison for the 1999 conviction, all other cases he got probation on.

The judge said he was against probation this time because Pinkney did not seem to be reformed from his last probation opportunity and getting involved again with interfering with the election process.

The judge received more then 100 letters of support for Pinkney, but noted that many letters were duplicates.

He said of all those he received only one letter was from a resident of Southwest Michigan.

The judge noted that he felt many of the letters were written by people who had "opinions based on misconceptions" of the realities of what is really going on in Southwest Michigan.

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