Woman Pleads Guilty to Felony Election Fraud in Augusta

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Republican Newt Gingrich failed in his bid to get on the ballot for Virginia's presidential primary last year - but not for lack of effort.

Prosecutors in Augusta County say a woman faked hundreds of signatures on campaign petitions.

The race for the Republican nomination may seem like a distant memory, but state police say their investigation is still active, and may result in additional arrests. Friday afternoon, police and prosecutors got their first convictions in the case.

Jennifer Derrebery, 31, of Bassett pleaded guilty to felony counts of election fraud and perjury.

A judge suspended all of her prison time.

Derrebery worked for election contractor Stillwater LLC.

Prosecutors say she turned over stacks of signed and notarized forms to the Virginia Board of Elections containing roughly 400 signatures - nearly all of them fraudulent.

"We don't know what was going on, and we are pursuing charges for the people who did something wrong here in Augusta, on Mr. Gingrich's primary election," said Rupen Shah, assistant commonwealth's attorney.

Shah says there were similar problems in other parts of Virginia, where GOP candidates needed 10,000 valid petitioners to get on the ballot. Gingrich submitted more than that, but a quarter of the names could not be verified.

Derrebery agreed to help prosecutors and state police with their investigation. Her co-defendant in Augusta County, Adam Dustin Ward, faces a total of 42 criminal counts. Ward goes before a judge in June.