Former Justice of the Peace Russ Casey walked out of a Tarrant County courthouse this week with a gift: He got a five-year, probated sentence after consciously trying to manipulate the electoral process. Casey’s plea deal looks even sweeter when compared to two other election fraud cases recently prosecuted by the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office. In those two cases confused — or at the very least misguided — women got prison sentences for voting violations. Forcing Casey to surrender his office — and his $126,000 salary — may be seen as a just penalty. It’s not enough. This Editorial Board thinks prosecutors and the public need to ask themselves if the scales of justice are out of balance. It offends our sense of fair play to see this kind of inequality. In the one case where an election was in real jeopardy, the guilty guy skates.
Let’s look at the cases.
Casey was accused of forging dozens of signatures on petitions needed to get his name placed on the March 6 primary ballot. Casey, who represented Precinct 3 in Northeast Tarrant County, eventually withdrew his candidacy after the forgery allegations were made.On Monday, Casey pleaded guilty to tampering with a government document and was sentenced to two years in jail, only to see his sentence probated in a plea deal.
Last month, Crystal Mason didn’t get such a soft landing. A judge sentenced Mason to five years in prison because, as a felon she was prohibited from voting in the 2016 presidential election. She was on supervised release after a 2011 conviction for filing false federal tax returns. Mason claims she didn’t know it was illegal for her to vote and it wasn’t made clear at the polling place.