Former Philadelphia judge of elections convicted on bribery charges

Domenick DeMuro received multiple bribes from an unidentified political consultant working on behalf of several candidates in exchange for stuffing the ballot boxes with fraudulent votes.

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Image Credit: Leah Millis/Reuters

After pleading guilty to conspiracy to deprive Philadelphia voters of their civil rights by fraudulently stuffing the ballot boxes for candidates seeking office in the 2014, 2015, and 2016 primary elections, a former judge of elections was recently convicted in federal court.

Between 2014 and 2016, former Judge of Elections Domenick DeMuro accepted $2,500 in bribes to inflate the vote totals for three Democratic candidates for Common Pleas Court judge in 2015 and also accepted money to add votes for other candidates. He also violated the Travel Act, which forbids the use of a cell phone to promote illegal activity.

Responsible for overseeing the entire election process and voter activities of his Division, DeMuro received multiple bribes from an unidentified political consultant working on behalf of several candidates in exchange for stuffing the ballot boxes with fraudulent votes.

In a recent statement, U.S. Attorney William McSwain wrote: “After receiving payments ranging from between $300 to $5,000 per election from the consultant, DeMuro would add fraudulent votes on the voting machine – also known as “ringing up” votes – for the consultant’s clients and preferred candidates, thereby diluting and distorting the ballots cast by actual voters. DeMuro would add these fraudulent votes to the totals during Election Day, and then would later falsely certify that the voting machine results were accurate. He would add the fraudulent votes by literally standing in the voting booth and voting over and over, as fast as he could, when he thought the coast was clear.

“In May 2014, DeMuro stuffed the ballot box with 27 fraudulent ballots during the primary election. In May 2015, DeMuro padded the ballot box with 40 fraudulent votes; in 2016, it was 46 fraudulent votes. These numbers may sound relatively small, but they made up a significant percentage of the total votes cast at the polling place. In 2014, 118 total ballots were reported in the 36th Division of the 39th Ward. That means that DeMuro’s fraudulent votes accounted for over 22% of the total voting in that Division in 2014. In 2015, his fraud accounted for over 15% of the votes in the Division; in 2016, his fraud accounted for over 17% of the votes.”

On March 16, DeMuro pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond to conspiring to deprive persons of civil rights and using interstate facilities in aid of bribery. On Thursday, his conviction was unsealed in federal court.

“This defendant abused his office by engaging in election fraud for profit,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division on Thursday. “Today’s conviction makes it clear that the Department of Justice will do all in its power to protect the integrity of elections and maintain public confidence in all levels of elected government.”

“DeMuro fraudulently stuffed the ballot box by literally standing in a voting booth and voting over and over, as fast as he could, while he thought the coast was clear. This is utterly reprehensible conduct. The charges announced today do not erase what he did, but they do ensure that he is held to account for those actions,” said U.S. Attorney William McSwain of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. “Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy. If even one vote is fraudulently rung up, the integrity of that election is compromised. I want the public to know that this investigation is active and ongoing, and my Office is taking every possible step that we can to ensure the integrity of the upcoming primary and general elections in the nine counties of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.”

“Domenick DeMuro put a thumb on the scale for certain candidates, in exchange for bribes,” stated Special Agent in Charge Michael Driscoll of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “As public trust in the electoral process is vital, the FBI’s message today is clear: election interference of any kind, by hostile foreign actors or dishonest local officials, won’t be tolerated. This is an active, ongoing investigation and we’re asking anyone with information on election fraud to contact the FBI.”

“The citizenry of the City of Philadelphia, as well as this Commonwealth and these United States, needs to be confident in the integrity of our elections,” asserted Captain Leo Hannon, Director of the Pennsylvania State Police, Special Investigations Division. “As this investigation clearly illustrates, the Pennsylvania State Police will relentlessly pursue any breach of the sacred trust bestowed upon our public officials. Our agency is proud to partner with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Attorney’s Office, and the United States Department of Justice as a whole to root out corruption at any level of our government.”

Sentencing is currently scheduled for June 30. DeMuro faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in federal prison.

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