A Kokomo businessman who has for weeks battled an accusation of voter fraud will not face charges, Howard County’s prosecutor announced Thursday.
Allen Wilson, the owner of Competition Towing & Recovery, has been cleared of criminal wrongdoing because of “insufficient evidence to show an intent to defraud,” according to Prosecutor Mark McCann.
It is welcome news for Wilson, whose company has faced significant financial repercussions after being suspended from the city’s towing contract in mid-May amidst the controversy over whether he voted illegally in this spring’s primary election.
The city’s Board of Public Works and Safety will likely vote at an upcoming meeting on whether to reinstate Competition on the contract.
A Kokomo Police Department spokeswoman did not answer a question Thursday about whether the department will recommend to reinstate Competition. The KPD had requested Wilson’s company be suspended from the towing contract while the voter fraud investigation was pending.
“I am obviously pleased, but also not surprised by the decision. Mr. Wilson is hopeful that the City of Kokomo will now reinstate his towing contract and that his business will be able to recover from the losses it has needlessly suffered,” said Wilson’s attorney, Brent Dechert, in a statement.
Boding well for Wilson is the fact Board of Works members voted during their weekly meeting Wednesday to approve Competition as part of the 2019-2020 City Wrecker Towing Services Contract, as recommended by Police Chief Rob Baker.
Towing contracts run from October to October.
The situation kicked off May 6, one day before Election Day, when Wilson became the focus of an email sent to the Howard County Election Board describing his “fraudulent vote” cast in the Democratic primary election.
The email alleged Wilson illegally changed his voter registration on April 2 to his business’ address, 1101 S. Apperson Way, inside city limits, in order to vote in the municipal primary for his friend and mayoral candidate Kevin Summers.
It is illegal in Indiana to register to vote at a place of business. Knowingly submitting a fraudulent application for registration can be charged as a crime, according to Indiana state code.
Wilson was previously registered to vote at a Howard County address outside city limits, although that registration was canceled three years ago. The address listed in the email and shown on previous registration documents is no longer owned by Wilson and was sold in 2015, according to property records.
Wilson has in fact lived at three separate homes inside Kokomo city limits since 2015 and thus is legally qualified to vote in a Kokomo municipal election, according to documents presented at a Howard County Election Board hearing in June.
It's a point Dechert used to claim Wilson had no reason to knowingly commit voter fraud, since he could have registered at his home address and voted in the primary election.
Dechert has instead said Wilson registered to vote using his business address by mistake and had no motivation to defraud the election when he cast an early ballot in the Democratic primary.
Now, Wilson – who Dechert says likely “pays more property taxes to the City of Kokomo than 99% of its residents” and owns nine properties – has suffered “huge financial loss” and seen his reputation ruined, claims his lawyer.
“Mr. Wilson has been a resident of the City of Kokomo for more than three years and could have validly registered to vote at one of the three residences he’s had during that time,” wrote Dechert in documents given to the Election Board and local media.
“His registering to vote at his business where he directs almost all of his mail was merely a mistake and certainly does not amount to fraud.”
The documents note that Wilson uses his company’s address “for almost everything,” including the address filed with the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
The three-member Election Board, however, decided June 20 to forward the case to the Howard County prosecutor’s office, which has now chosen not to pursue charges.
An attempt to reach Wilson for comment was not successful.