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Ex-Kansas Rep. Watkins enters diversion over voter fraud

Ex-Kansas Rep. Watkins enters diversion over voter fraud

(Associated Press)

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Former Congressman Steve Watkins of Kansas has entered a diversion program to avoid trial over allegations that he voted illegally in a 2019 municipal election.

Watkins, a Republican from Topeka who served only one term in the U.S. House, was facing three felony charges. He was accused of listing a postal box at a UPS store as his home on a state registration form when he was living temporarily at his parents' home. He was also charged with lying to a detective who investigated the case.

The Shawnee County district attorney filed the charges just weeks before the August 2020 primary, and Watkins lost to now-Rep. Jake LaTurner.

"I regret the error in my voter registration paperwork that led to these charges. I fully cooperated from the beginning and had no intent to deceive any one, at any time. I am glad to resolve the ordeal," Watkins said in a statement Tuesday.

Watkins acknowledged he lied to the detective when he said he did not vote in the Topeka City Council election, The Kansas City Star reported.

Under the diversion agreement entered into Monday, Watkins' prosecution will be deferred for six months. If he meets the terms of the agreement, the case will be dropped by September.

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