Hazleton man pleads guilty to felony election misconduct

William Gibson, 68, of Hazleton (Courtesy: Buchanan County Attorney)
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INDEPENDENCE, Iowa (KCRG) - A man in Buchanan County pleaded guilty to charges related to illegal election participation during the 2018 general election on Wednesday, according to county officials.

William James Gibson, 68, of Hazleton, pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree election misconduct and one count of third or subsequent offense possession of a controlled substance on Wednesday, November 5, 2019. All of the charges are class D felonies but will carry enhanced penalties due to his status as a habitual felon.

According to court filings, at around 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, Gibson registered to vote at the Hazleton City Hall after falsely asserting that he was not a convicted felon in a sworn affidavit, even after the precinct official advised him that he was a felon. Gibson has seven felony criminal convictions in his past, with the first being second-degree burglary in 1980.

Prosecutors said that Gibson then proceeded to attempt to vote in the election in spite of his ineligibility. Precinct officials prevented him from casting a normal ballot, allowing him to cast a provisional ballot instead.

Gibson was also on probation at the time of election day 2018. The possession charge that he pleaded guilty to was from a related incident in September 2019 when he was arrested for failing to appear in court for the election misconduct.

Gibson faces up to 15 years in prison on each charge, as well as an additional 15 years for violating probation. His sentencing is set for December 17, 2019.