Scott Hall, Trump ally indicted in Georgia election case, pleads guilty

A Georgia bond bailsman, Hall was accused of participating in an effort to remove and tamper with election equipment.

The sun sets on the Fulton County Courthouse, Monday, Aug. 14, 2023, in Atlanta.
Prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia, have alleged there was a criminal conspiracy to help former US President Donald Trump overturn the 2020 election [File: Alex Slitz/AP Photo]

Scott Hall, one of the 19 co-defendants in a case over election interference in the state of Georgia, has pleaded guilty to five criminal counts as part of a deal with Fulton County prosecutors in the United States.

He becomes the first to plead guilty in the wide-ranging case, which alleges that former President Donald Trump and allies engaged in a “criminal enterprise” to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential race.

A mugshot of Scott Hall, dressed in a white shirt and dark suit. A Fulton County seal is superimposed at the top of the image.
Scott Hall was among the first of the 19 co-defendants to surrender to Fulton County authorities on August 22 [Fulton County Sheriff’s Office/AP Photo]

As part of the deal, Hall agreed to testify in future proceedings. He received five years probation and a fine of $5,000 in exchange for pleading guilty to five misdemeanour counts of conspiring to commit intentional interference with the performance of election duties.

Hall, a Georgia bail bondsman, was also one of the first to surrender to Fulton County authorities in August, when the 19 co-defendants faced a deadline to turn themselves in.

He originally faced seven felony charges — including conspiracy to defraud the state, computer theft and unlawful possession of ballots — based on allegations he helped breach election equipment in rural Coffee County, Georgia, in a failed effort to prove Trump’s false claims of voter fraud.

Trump, a Republican, has long maintained without evidence that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him. His Democratic rival, current President Joe Biden, narrowly won key swing states like Georgia, thereby propelling him to the White House.

But in the weeks after the 2020 vote, Georgia prosecutors contended that Trump and his supporters “knowingly and willfully joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election” in the state.

Trump and top allies like erstwhile New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows were among the 19 co-defendants ultimately named in the indictment — the fourth set of criminal charges the former president faces.

It was also his second involving election interference allegations: A federal indictment was filed in Washington, DC, shortly before the state-level charges were announced in Georgia. Trump has denied wrongdoing in all four cases.

The prosecutors are pursuing the 19 co-defendants on charges they violated the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a law often used against organised crime and gang members. It allows prosecutors to charge multiple participants for separate crimes that share the same end goal.

Hall is considered a minor player in that alleged conspiracy. Georgia’s indictment explains Hall had “been looking into the election on behalf of the President at the request of David Bossie”, a conservative activist and Trump ally.

Those efforts allegedly took a criminal turn on January 7, 2021, just one day after Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol in an attempt to disrupt the certification of the 2020 election results.

Hall, who had connections to the state Republican Party, was searching for evidence of voter fraud to back up Trump’s claims, according to prosecutors. He flew from DeKalb County to Coffee County, where local officials — also charged in the indictment — gave him access to the Coffee County Board of Elections and Registration Office.

Prosecutors said he was joined at the office by workers hired from the data firm SullivanStrickler, who made copies of data from sensitive election materials, including ballot scanners and hard drives.

In a telephone recording filed in a separate court case, Hall can be heard saying: “I’m the guy who chartered the jet to go down to Coffee County, to have them inspect all of those computers.”

Hall explains the workers “scanned all the equipment, imaged all the hard drives”, taking copies of votes, both absentee and in-person.

“I went down there,” he said. “We scanned every freaking ballot.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies