HAZLETON – A Hazleton man faces up to 60 years behind bars for drug offenses and trying to vote as a felon.
William James Gibson, 68, pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree election misconduct and one count of third-offense possession of marijuana on Tuesday in Buchanan County District Court in Independence.
The crimes usually carry five years on each count, but Gibson faces sentencing enhancements under the state’s habitual offender laws because of prior burglary and drug convictions. The enhancements bump the punishment to 15 years on each count plus an additional 15 for a probation violation.
A sentencing date hasn’t been set.
Authorities said in November 2018, Gibson signed a voter registration form at a Hazleton polling place indicating he didn’t have a felony conviction. A precinct employee suspected otherwise --- he had seven prior state and federal convictions and was on probation for a drug offense ---and he was allowed to submit only a provisional ballot, according to the Buchanan County Attorney’s Office.
The drug charge stems from a September 2019 incident where a sheriff’s deputy found a bag of marijuana when detaining Gibson for missing a court date.