Lawyer Kenneth Chesebro pleaded guilty to a felony charge of conspiracy to commit filing false documents in a last-minute deal on Friday. Chesebro was charged alongside Donald Trump and 17 others with violating Georgia’s anti-racketeering law, as part of efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. His guilty plea came as jury selection was about to begin in his trial.
Chesebro’s plea follows fellow attorney Sidney Powell’s guilty plea to six misdemeanor counts the day before. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who obtained the indictment in August, sees these guilty pleas as significant victories. They allow her to avoid a lengthy trial and reduce the number of defendants.
Chesebro, who resides in Puerto Rico, was initially charged with felony racketeering and six other counts. The indictment alleges that he coordinated and executed a plan to have 16 Georgia Republicans sign a false certificate declaring Trump as the winner of the state’s election.
As part of the plea deal, Chesebro was sentenced to five years’ probation, 100 hours of community service, and ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution. He must also write an apology letter to Georgia’s residents and testify truthfully at any future related trials.
The guilty pleas of Chesebro and Powell ensure their public acceptance of responsibility and remove the uncertainty of a trial. They also require them to testify about their communications with Trump’s campaign lawyers and close associates, including co-defendant Rudy Giuliani.
Jury selection for Powell and Chesebro’s trial was scheduled to begin on Friday, but after Powell’s guilty plea, Chesebro was set to proceed to trial alone. Powell’s plea deal includes six years of probation, a $6,000 fine, and an apology letter to Georgia and its residents. She has also agreed to testify truthfully against her co-defendants in future trials.
Another defendant in the case, bail bondsman Scott Graham Hall, pleaded guilty to five misdemeanor charges last month. He was sentenced to five years of probation and agreed to testify in further proceedings. All other defendants, including Mark Meadows, have pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors allege that Chesebro conspired with Trump and campaign lawyers to submit false elector certificates in Georgia and other swing states won by Biden. Chesebro also provided instructions on disrupting and delaying the certification of electoral votes during the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021.