Police raid Warren home linked to GOP signature forgery scandal

Officials raided a Warren home on Thursday in connection with forged signatures on the petitions for several Republican gubernatorial candidates, police confirmed Friday.

Warren Police Commissioner William Dwyer confirmed the raid to The Detroit News, saying the search warrant was from the Attorney General Dana Nessel's office.

Warren Police Commissioner William Dwyer

"The Warren Police Department did assist on the execution of the search warrant," Dwyer said.

The police chief added that he believed the Attorney General's office "seized a number of items," but said he could not confirm what was seized.

The home is connected to Shawn Wilmoth, Dwyer said.

Michigan State Police was not involved in the raid, spokesperson Lori Dougovito said. Nessel's office did not immediately respond for a request for comment. Wilmoth could not be reached for comment.

Wilmoth was accused by former Detroit police Chief James Craig’s campaign of being involved in a signature forgery scandal that kept the Republican gubernatorial candidate off of the August primary ballot. Instead, Craig has filed to run as a write-in candidate, which is considered a politically challenging path for winning a primary election.

In a lawsuit filed in Kent County on Monday, Craig and his main signature contractor, Vanguard Field Strategies, said the campaign subcontracted with In Field Strategies on the premise that the signature collection firm would secure signatures with an at least a 70% validity rate. But In Field, they argued in the complaint, “secretly” and “recklessly” subcontracted with a company run by Wilmoth who “used another man as its ‘front’” named Willie Reed.

Reed served as In Field’s “Michigan manager” and used Wilmoth’s circulators to collect signatures ultimately deemed fraudulent, the complaint said.

At $13 a signature, the group submitted a total of 14,310 signatures for Craig's campaign, of which about 9,879 were fully examined to show they were invalid — leaving Craig's campaign with a 30% validity rate.

The suit alleges breach of contract, breach of warranty and common law fraud and seeks a monetary judgment in favor of the campaign and Vanguard.

Wilmoth leads First Choice Contracting, which was also contracted by GOP gubernatorial candidate and Michigan State Police Capt. Michael Brown, whose signatures also were deemed to fall short of the 15,000-signature threshold for the August gubernatorial primary ballot because of fraudulent submissions.

Wilmoth pleaded guilty to two counts of election fraud in 2011, according to a Florida TV station. Wilmoth told the station he was convicted of "two counts of false statements on (a) required form."


Twitter: @Hayley__Harding