An investigation into the alleged gambling and money laundering activities of an allegedly crooked city councilman in Lodi, California, has led to the discovery of an extensive 2020 election ballot trafficking and harvesting scheme with national significance.
Lodi City Councilman Shakir Khan was arrested Thursday on suspicion of election fraud charges and booked into San Joaquin County Jail, KRON4 reported.
Khan is also facing charges related to illegal gambling, money laundering, tax evasion, and EDD fraud, according to KRON4. He was arrested on those charges in 2020 when he was a candidate for city council.
Prosecutors in San Joaquin County accused Khan and his two brothers, Zakir Khan and Mohammed Khan, of running illegal internet gambling hubs at two of his business.
After Khan was released, he was forbidden to leave the state or country under an agreement known as “Own Recognizance.” The sheriff’s office said that as a sitting councilman, Khan allegedly posted social media photos that showed him in New York and Hawaii, as well as on a taxpayer-funded trip to Washington DC.
Khan, who hails from Pakistan, submitted illegitimate candidacy forms in 2020, according to the San Joaquin Sheriff’s Office, and shouldn’t have even been on the ballot.
He is slated to appear in court for that case on Tuesday.
The sheriff’s office announced the following election fraud charges against Khan in a press conference Thursday.
• Causing/procuring/allowing false voter registration of self/another person
• Submission of fraudulent registration to the Secretary of State
• Submission of fraudulent Candidacy petition
• Aiding/abetting the commission of fraud at any election
• Subscription of fictitious names to nomination petitions
• False nomination/declaration of candidacy
• Fraudulently casting votes
• Procuring/assisting/counseling/advising another not qualified to vote
▪️Subscription of fictitious names to nomination petitions
▪️False nomination/declaration of candidacy
▪️Fraudulently casting votes
▪️Procuring/assisting/counseling/advising another not qualified to vote
These charges stem from the 2020 election.
— San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office (@SJSheriff) February 16, 2023
“Our investigation uncovered that councilman Shakir Khan has attempted to undermine, manipulate and violate one of our most fundamental rights here in our country, and that is the right to free and fair elections,” San Joaquin Sheriff Patrick Withrow said.
During the press conference, Withrow stressed that the charges only pertain to criminal activity in San Joaquin county, and had “no impact on any state or federal elections that we know of at this time.” Nevertheless, officials laid out how easily “vulnerable communities” can be intimidated into voting via the type of ballot harvesting and illegal electioneering schemes Democrats allegedly employ nationwide.
“It appears councilman Shakir Khan has targeted members of his own community, our Pakistani community in the north county,” Withrow said. “And we are doing everything we can to work with them to make sure that they are protected and that any damage done to them or their families is corrected by this man’s actions.”
The San Joaquin Sheriff’s Office’s voter fraud investigation was launched after officers searched Khan’s home as part of the illegal gambling investigation, and allegedly found 41 sealed and completed mail-in ballots.
At the time, Khan was running for the District 4 seat on the Lodi City Council.
“When we saw this, we thought that something was off here and we didn’t know we had a crime at this particular point because there was a recent change in election law and people can turn in ballots on behalf of another,” Capt. Art Harty of the sheriff’s office said in the press conference.
Officials from the sheriff’s office said Thursday there were 23 names registered to vote at Khan’s address and 47 others were registered to vote at other addresses but used Khan’s email and phone number.
While filing for his candidacy for the District 4 seat, Khan allegedly had his brother fly from Pakistan to change a business to his name, but on candidacy papers, Khan lists himself as the owner. The sheriff’s office also questioned the signatures Khan gathered for candidacy.
Authorities alleged there was an issue with his signature verification, as Khan’s candidacy report shows signatures that didn’t match signatures on the DMV’s database.
During the press conference, officials shared body camera footage of deputies interviewing people who purportedly filled out ballots in support of Khan. The footage shows people telling the officers that Khan pressured them to vote for him, or filled out the ballots himself.
The sheriff’s office said when Khan found out about the voter fraud investigation, he posted a TikTok video of himself in speaking in Urdu telling Pakistani voters to “say that you filled out your ballot if you are questioned.”
“It’s infuriating to watch this,” said Withrow, adding that the Pakistani voters are here “trying to make a better life for themselves and their families, and here, a member of their own community is taking advantage of them, and then he goes online and speaks in their native language to tell them to lie to the police.”
Harty said investigators also discovered “quite a few flaws” in California’s online voter registration system, resulting in thousands of potentially fraudulent voter registrations on just the San Joaquin County voter rolls.
“You’re able to register and cast a vote if you don’t live in the country,” Harty said, adding that their investigation had identified several such cases, including Khan’s brother in Pakistan.
“The online voter registration system seems to be an honor system,” he continued. “Anybody can put information in there to register to vote there. All you have to do is click a box that you’re not lying, and then you’ll get an email from the Secretary of State thanking you for registering to vote.”
Harty noted there was also an issue of signature verification, with signatures for registrations not matching DMV records.
“I would hope that he would be held to highest level of accountability on this—if he’s found guilty to send a message to anyone throughout our state or country that thinks about doing this again,” said Withrow. The sheriff added that he would like the case to set an example to other potential vote fraudsters that they must not “mess with our elections.”
Khan was booked into San Joaquin County Jail on Thursday and appeared in court for an arraignment Friday.
Mark Mendlovitz, an engineer and mathematician from California, drew attention to the case in a tweet thread over the weekend.
— Mark Mendlovitz (@MendlovitzMark) February 18, 2023
Khan reportedly signed a handwritten letter of resignation on Thursday, but now says he was coerced and is not resigning.
Lodi Mayor Mikey Hothi said he visited Khan at the jail on Thursday afternoon and asked for Khan’s resignation.
Hothi drafted a hand-written letter of resignation signed by himself and Khan, which was later received and stamped by the Lodi City Clerk.
Khan clarified that he was not resigning as a Lodi city councilmember after he was let out of the San Joaquin County jail Friday evening.
“I did not resign my city council seat,” Khan told KCRA 3 in an exclusive interview outside the jail following his release. “I will continue to serve the people that I love in my district and my community.”
“My family and myself, we are going through some hard time right now and we are looking forward to fighting these charges,” Khan said.