Local news

Pair Face Charges Of Forging Signatures

The state filed misdemeanor charges Monday against a Tacoma couple accused of forging signatures to certify property-rights Initiative 164 to the Legislature.

Robert Smith and Denise Matthews are named in the complaint filed in Pierce County District Court by state Attorney General Christine Gregoire.

The two are accused of falsifying about 480 signatures, Senior Assistant Attorney General Greg Canova said. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Smith and Matthews had been paid $120 for collecting signatures for the measure.

“Paying for signature solicitation on a per-signature basis increases the likelihood of fraudulent signatures being submitted,” said Secretary of State Ralph Munro, the state’s chief elections officer.

“If this problem arises again, we definitely will go back to the Legislature to prohibit per-signature payment.”

The Legislature approved the initiative, which would require governments to compensate property owners for land value lost to regulation.

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