Pine Belt attorney Ferraez settles voter registration case

By DAVID GUSTAFSON,

Hattiesburg attorney Cory Ferraez, 28, has agreed to settle a dispute with the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office regarding voting irregularities dating back to 2015.

Under terms of the settlement, Ferraez – who ran unsuccessfully for the state Legislature in 2017 – pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of voting outside his legal residence and was sentenced to six months of probation, a $200 fine, and was ordered to pay $200 to the victim’s compensation fund, in addition to court costs.

The issue stems back to October 2015 when Ferraez voted in his hometown of Lowndes County where he had been a registered voter since the age of 18. In 2016, after living in Hattiesburg for more than a year, Ferraez legally changed his voter registration to Forrest County.

Later in 2017, and in order to qualify to run for state representative, Ferraez correctly declared he was a Hattiesburg resident to meet the two-year residency requirement for candidates.

Prior to the special election in 2017, the AG’s Office attempted to keep Ferraez off of the ballot based on his Lowndes County vote in 2015. After that attempt failed, the State Board of Elections approved Ferraez’ candidacy and Forrest County residency, the AG’s Office pushed to convene a special grand jury so it could aggressively prosecute the case before the election took place.

Ferraez and his attorneys have long argued political motivation prompted the charges.

State Attorney General Jim Hood is the only Democrat elected to statewide office in Mississippi and is expected to toss his hat into the governor’s race this summer.

At the time, Ferraez, who had hoped to follow in the footsteps of former state Rep. Toby Barker, indicated he would caucus with the Republican party if elected.

“This is the first case of its kind to be indicted by any Attorney General ever in Mississippi. The entire indictment was politically motivated and an abuse of process, which has no place in our judicial system,” said Jace Ferraez, one of Cory Ferraez’ attorneys. "Further, Cory did not plead guilty to voter fraud. He only pleaded to voting outside his legal domicile or residence because he was legally registered to vote in Lowndes County.”

 

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