SMETHPORT — Two of the four defendants accused of forging election petitions for the 2019 Bradford City mayoral race pleaded guilty Thursday.
Josef D. Godfrey, 29, Lena Lewis, 26, and Nikki L. Elliott, 23, all of Bradford, were charged with helping Slim Lewis, 43, of Bradford forge election petitions when he was seeking the Democratic nomination in the May primary as a candidate for Bradford City mayor.
Godfrey and Lena Lewis appeared Thursday in McKean County Court before Judge Christopher Hauser. Each pleaded guilty to a charge of forgery and false statements, said District Attorney Stephanie Vettenburg-Shaffer.
Court records filed at the time they were first charged stated that Godfrey was accused of forging at least 10 signatures on election petitions for Slim Lewis, and Lena Lewis was accused of forging at least seven.
Also on Thursday, a bench warrant was filed against Elliott, who failed to appear for a last-day-to-plea conference, Shaffer said.
Slim Lewis withdrew his name from the race in mid-March after concern was raised over the authenticity of the signatures on his petitions.
Lewis had two petitions, one with 55 signatures and the other with 56. One had a notarized seal that it had been circulated by Lewis, and the other by his roommate, Josef Godfrey.
According to the criminal complaints in the case, McKean County Detective Linda Close contacted numerous people on Lewis’ petitions to verify if they were legitimate. Many informed her the signatures were not theirs.
Close also interviewed Lewis, his wife Lena Lewis, Godfrey and Elliott and learned that each of them forged several names, court records indicated.
Slim Lewis and Elliott have not been convicted of any allegations, and both cases are still pending. Lewis is accused of forging at least 17 signatures, and Elliott, at least nine.
Slim Lewis is scheduled for a last-day-to-plea conference at 1 p.m. Oct. 3.
Godfrey and Lena Lewis are set to be sentenced at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 19 before Hauser.