Bredemeyer campaign worker Dana Cooper charged with 17 counts of election fraud
Published 12:47 pm Friday, February 24, 2023
A campaign worker for a 2022 candidate for Suffolk City Council who was removed from the ballot faces 17 counts of election fraud.
Suffolk Circuit Court Grand Jury handed down the felony indictments Wednesday, Feb. 22 against Dana Marie Cooper of Hampton, who was working on the campaign of Suffolk Borough City Council candidate Art Bredemeyer.
The Virginia Judiciary online case tracking system shows Cooper’s status as a “fugitive,” meaning she has not yet been taken into custody to be arraigned on 17 counts.
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Cooper was indicted under Virginia code section 24.2-1016 on making false statements. “Any willfully false material statement or entry made by any person in any statement, form, or report required by this title shall constitute the crime of election fraud and be punishable as a Class 5 felony,” the state code states.
Each of the 17 counts of the Class 5 felonies carry a term of imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than 10 years, or in the discretion of the jury or the court trying the case without a jury, confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both.
The City of Suffolk Electoral Board voted in August 2022 to remove Bredemeyer from the ballot.
General Registrar Burdette Lawrence told the News-Herald at the time that the vote was “on the grounds of material omission by the circulator’s address and not (having) enough valid signatures on the petitions.”
The issue centered around a report of fraudulent signatures on Bredemeyer’s petition to earn a spot on the ballot. Lawrence initially certified Bredemeyer as a candidate for the Suffolk Borough council election after the petition with 222 signatures was submitted. A council candidate needs 125 valid signatures to be put on the ballot.
Her office, however, received a report of fraudulent signatures July 7 and turned the matter over to the Commonwealth’s Attorney the following day.
Burdette told the newspaper on Aug. 16 that her office had received 78 signature complaints and has so far confirmed 84 invalid signatures.
Bredemeyer, who unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2012 and lost to now retired Councilman Donald Goldberg for a council seat in 2018, previously said the person collecting signatures on his behalf was under investigation and was only used as a consultant for that part of the campaign.