Politicial Bribes

Former congressman Ozzie Myers charged with alleged bribery of South Philly elections judge

Former US Congressman Michael “Ozzie” Myers was indicted Wednesday for his involvement in an alleged plot to rig the election in Philadelphia.

The indictment comes two months after a South Philly elections judge pleaded guilty to accepting political bribes. Myers was reportedly the Democratic agent waving the money.

Myers, 77, represented Pennsylvania 1st District from 1976 to 1980, when he was kicked out of the House of Representatives for his involvement in the infamous Abscam scandal. During an FBI attack targeting public corruption and organized crime, Myers was filmed accepting a $ 50,000 bribe from undercover agents and was later sentenced to three years in prison .

In the years since his expulsion, Myers has remained involved in Democratic politics in Philadelphia, where prosecutors say he offered money to “collect” the votes in the 2014, 2015 and 2016 primary elections.

Former elections judge Domenick J. Demuro, who served in 39th District, 36th South Philly Division, pleaded guilty in May to accepting bribes to fill the ballot boxes of certain candidates.

Demuro admitted to accepting bribes ranging from $ 300 to $ 5,000 per election in the 2014, 2015 and 2016 primaries.

Myers was reportedly a political consultant hired by specific Democratic candidates running for court elections and various elected positions at the state, federal and local levels. After the candidates paid Myers, Demuro would receive a reduction in his fees to add votes to those candidates, prosecutors said.

At his polling station, Demuro admitted that he would “call” additional votes on machines, add them to the totals and later falsely certify that the receipts for the voting machine results were accurate, prosecutors said.

Myers reportedly ordered Demuro to lie to investigators about the circumstances of the bribes and the ballot stuffing scheme.

“The vote is the cornerstone of our democracy. If a single vote has been illegally recorded or fraudulently cast into a ballot box, the integrity of that entire election is compromised,” said US Attorney William M. McSwain. “Votes are not things to be bought and democracy is not for sale.”

Demuro added between 27 and 46 fraudulent ballots in the three years of elections covered by the survey, McSwain said in May. Although the numbers seem low, they represented 22% of the total votes cast in the Demuro division in 2014, 15% in 2015 and 17% in 2016.

“Myers would relay instructions to Demuro over a cell phone regarding which candidates Demuro should ‘call’ on election day,” McSwain said in remarks regarding the case. “Demuro would add up the fraudulent votes by literally standing in the voting booth and voting over and over again, as fast as he could, when he thought the coast was free.”

Prosecutors have not identified any of the candidates who allegedly hired Myers as a consultant to facilitate the scheme.

Myers is charged with conspiracy to violate voting rights, bribing an election official, tampering with records, voting more than once in federal elections and obstructing justice.

Demuro, 73, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and violating travel law by accepting bribes using his cell phone. He has not yet been convicted.

If convicted, Myers faces a possible maximum sentence of 90 years in prison and a $ 2 million fine.

McSwain said the investigation is still ongoing.

“My office is taking all possible steps to ensure the integrity of every election in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in 2020,” McSwain said. “We will work day and night to ensure that the civil rights of every citizen are protected, whether through access to polling stations or by counting every legitimate vote.”

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