LONGVIEW, Texas (KETK) – A Gregg County Commissioner and his wife, who had been facing more than 60 election fraud felonies for the 2018 race he won, pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count each Thursday afternoon.

51-year-old Shannon Brown had been indicted on 23 felonies related to election fraud while his wife, 52-year-old Marlena Jackson, was charged with 40 counts dealing with election fraud.

All the felony charges were dismissed while both pleaded guilty to Election Fraud, a Class A misdemeanor in Texas. They were sentenced to one-year probation.

Brown released a statement on his guilty plea saying that he was campaigning at a voter’s house and “asked her to consider voting for me while she had possession of her mail-in ballot.” He wrote that he “did not realize at the time that doing so was a misdemeanor.”

To view his statement along with a signed affidavit from the voter stating that Brown’s story is factual, click the button below.

He is up for re-election in the March primaries. Early voting is scheduled to begin in less than one month.

Brown was elected in the Democratic primary for the Precinct 4 Gregg County Commissioner’s seat. He and his wife were charged along with two other people, Charlie Burns Jr., 85, and DeWayne Ward, 60, in an alleged vote harvesting scheme.

The Texas Attorney General’s Office investigated the race after the March primary between Brown and former Longview Councilwoman Kasha Williams had 787 mail-in ballots.

While Kasha Williams led Shannon Brown by more than 20 percentage points during in-person voting, 73% of the mail-in ballots were cast in favor of Shannon Brown, ultimately leading to his victory. He squeaked by Williams in the election by just five votes.

The 787 mail-in ballots tallied in the March primary represent more than 37% of votes cast in the Brown/Williams contest. Of the 787 ballot applications, at least 226 claimed a disability — almost 29%.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office originally accused Brown, Jackson, Burns and Ward of being “ballot harvesters,” or people who deliver mail-in votes for a candidate for money.

The indictment alleged that the group targeted young, able-bodied voters to cast ballots by mail by fraudulently claiming they were disabled in order to increase the pool of ballots needed to swing the race in Brown’s favor.

When Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill into law that placed new restrictions on voting, particularly mail-in ballots, State Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, referenced the case at the press conference.

“We have a county commissioner under indictment for mail ballot fraud. Anybody who tells you there’s no voter fraud in Texas is telling you a very big lie. It’s going on today. As you know, this bill deals with that.”

State Sen. Bryan Hughes

On Jan. 25, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton released a statement on Brown’s case.

“I commend District Attorney Tom Watson for prosecuting this case,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Elections should be fair – and it is our civic duty to report unlawful behavior. I would also like to thank my Election Integrity Unit, whose thorough investigation and assistance ensured that Gregg County will continue to have lawful and just local elections.”