Kenneth Chesebro pleads guilty in Georgia election interference case

Attorney becomes third defendant to cut a deal with prosecutors in Donald Trump-related indictment.
He is now the third defendant to cut a deal with prosecutors in the Donald Trump-related indictment in Fulton County.
Published: Oct. 20, 2023 at 5:14 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 20, 2023 at 7:44 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Just as his jury selection process was getting underway, Kenneth Chesebro, one of 19 co-defendants charged in former President Donald Trump’s historic Fulton County indictment, reached a plea deal with prosecutors.

Chesebro pleaded guilty early Friday afternoon to a felony charge of filing false documents as it related to Georgia’s 2020 presidential election. He received five years’ probation; a $5,000 fine; and agreed to write an apology letter and perform 100 hours of community service. He was originally charged with seven crimes, including a violation of Georgia’s RICO act, conspiracy to commit forgery and conspiracy to commit impersonating a public officer.

“What this does for Mr. Chesebro is it guarantees he goes home. He doesn’t spend a minute in jail. He can hopefully continue to practice law, and he can be with his family,” said Scott Grubman, Chesebro’s attorney. “The prospect of having your destiny decided by 12 strangers is a really, really daunting thought.”

Chesebro was expected to go on trial next week with Sidney Powell, but on Thursday, Powell pleaded guilty in the case and agreed to six years probation (12 months for each count served consecutively); a $6,000 fine ($1,000 for each count); a $2,700 restitution to be paid to Georgia secretary of state office; a letter of apology; an agreement to testify against other co-defendants; and an agreement that she cannot interact with any witnesses, co-defendants or members of the media.


It’s not a conviction for Chesebro, but the guilty plea does shield him from testifying as a witness in a federal probe being carried out by the Justice Department and special prosecutor Jack Smith over Trump’s alleged election interference in Washington, D.C.

It was extremely similar to the plea deal offered to and accepted by Powell, another one-time attorney and close acolyte of Trump.

As part of Powell’s deal, she will serve six years of probation, be fined $6,000 and write an apology letter too. She also recorded a statement for prosecutors and agreed to testify truthfully against her co-defendants at future trials.

A lower-profile defendant in the case, bail bondsman Scott Graham Hall, pleaded guilty last month to five misdemeanor charges. He was sentenced to five years of probation and agreed to testify in further proceedings.

All of the other defendants, including Trump’s former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, have pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors said Chesebro unlawfully conspired with Trump and lawyers associated with his campaign to have the group of Georgia Republicans sign false elector certificates and submit them to various federal authorities. He also communicated with Trump campaign lawyers and Republican leaders in other swing states won by Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election to get those states to submit false slates of electors as well, prosecutors alleged.

That included writing memos advocating for Republicans in those states to meet and cast electoral votes for Trump and providing detailed instructions for how the process should be carried out. In an email to former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, he outlined strategies to disrupt and delay the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, during which electoral votes were to be certified. He wrote that those strategies were “preferable to allowing the Electoral Count Act to operate by its terms.”

“I think this plea deal absolutely shows and proves that he was not and never was the architect of any sort of fake elector plan,” said Grubman. “If Mr. Chesebro was the architect of a plan to overturn democracy, would the District Attorney of Fulton County have offered him five years probation to terminate after three years? The answer is no.”

Both Powell and Chesebro had filed motions asking for a speedy trial, motions that were eventually approved by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, who is presiding over the massive case. McAfee has also ruled Trump and 16 other co-defendants will be tried together at a later date that has yet to be determined.

Trump and 18 others have been charged with participating in an alleged criminal conspiracy designed to overturn Georgia’s 2020 presidential election results. The massive, racketeering-related indictment was announced in August by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.

Willis had been seeking to try all of the co-defendants in one trial, an effort that was brought to a screeching halt when McAfee agreed to allow Powell and Chesebro to be tried separately from the others named in Willis’ indictment.

When asked about the case on Friday, Willis had little to say.

“We’re in the middle of a very long case,” she said. “And we’re going to be here a while.”

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