First Trump co-defendant pleads guilty in Fulton election case

Bail bondsman Scott Hall on Friday became the first defendant in a Fulton County election interference case to take a plea deal with prosecutors, signaling the trial has entered a dynamic new phase.

During an impromptu hearing before Fulton Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, Hall, represented by his attorney, pleaded guilty to five counts of willful interference with the performance of election duties.

Hall agreed to testify truthfully when called, five years of probation, a $5,000 fine, 200 hours of community service and a ban on activities related to voting and election administration. He filed a statement for prosecutors and promised to write an apology to Georgia voters.

The deal is a win for prosecutors, who are now preparing for at least two sets of trials involving 18 defendants. Jury selection for the trial, which includes the first two defendants, Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesbro, is set to begin on October 20.

A spokeswoman for District Attorney Fannie Willis declined to comment.

Hall was indicted on Jan. 7, 2021, in connection with the breach of sensitive voting data in Coffee County in south Georgia.

Hall may be called to testify against Powell, who prosecutors allege paid for the Coffee County trip, as the Trump campaign seeks evidence of its claims of voter fraud.

Hall is not as well-known as other Trump co-defendants, but he played a broader role in efforts to subvert the 2020 election results in Georgia. In early January 2021, he called Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department attorney accused in the Trump case, and they spoke for 63 minutes about the presidential election, according to the 98-page Fulton indictment.

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Prosecutors said Friday that Hall chartered a plane that took a team of Trump associates and computer analysts to Coffee County, about 200 miles southeast of Atlanta. The team spent hours at the county election office copying Georgia’s statewide voting system software, which must be kept secure by election officials.

According to the indictment, they also took official ballots outside the polling place in violation of Georgia law.

Hall was among those caught on surveillance video at the office. At one point he can be seen massaging the shoulders of Kathy Latham, the Republican county chairwoman accused in the election case.

Professor of Law, University of Georgia. Melissa D. Redmon said it’s hard to say how much damage Hall could do to Powell’s defense at trial.

“But you have to assume that (prosecutors) giving him first-offender misdemeanors would mean something.

Powell’s attorney Brian Rafferty did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, it appears Hall will be able to keep his bail bond license. Under Georgia law, a professional bail bondsman cannot be convicted of a felony “or any crime involving moral turpitude.”

The DA’s office clarified, and Hall’s attorney successfully asked McAfee to plead not guilty to a crime involving moral turpitude.

It is common for prosecutors to appeal large, multi-defendant fraud cases, as the largest targets in the alleged criminal scheme. Former President Donald Trump and his former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani face more charges in the case.

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“You want the people at the table to be the most guilty and have the most evidence against you,” Redman said. “If you’re not, you don’t really want to worry about the low-hanging fruit.”

During a separate meeting before McAfee on Friday, special prosecutor Nathan Wade revealed that the DA’s office had not yet offered plea deals to Chesebro or Powell, but he said that would change in the future.

“We’ll sit down and put some things together and approach defense counsel individually to extend the offer,” Wade said.

Staff writer Chris Joyner contributed to this article.

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