Former South Philly Judge Pleads Guilty to Election Fraud

WATERLOO, IA - SEPTEMBER 27: Voting booths are set up for early voting at the Black Hawk County Courthouse on September 27, 2012 in Waterloo, Iowa. Early voting starts today in Iowa where in the 2008 election 36 percent of voters cast an early ballot. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Domenick J. DeMuro, a former Judge of Elections in Philadelphia, has pleaded guilty to election fraud, admitting that he took cash bribes and fraudulently stuffed the ballot boxes “for specific Democratic candidates in the 2014, 2015, and 2016 primary elections,” U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain announced on Thursday.

DeMuro entered a guilty plea in March, although the proceeding was not unsealed until Thursday. He admitted to “accepting $2,500 in bribes to inflate the vote totals for three Democratic candidates for Common Pleas Court judge between 2014 and 2016,” as the Philadelphia Inquirer reported:

In May 2014, DeMuro inflated vote totals by adding 27 fraudulent ballots in the primary election, 40 votes in May 2015, and 46 in 2016, according to court documents outlining the scheme and the charges against him.

McSwain released a video discussing the charges and plea:

DeMuro has been charged with two counts: first, for conspiring to deprive Philadelphia voters of their civil rights by fraudulently stuffing the ballot boxes for specific Democratic candidates in the 2014, 2015, and 2016 primary elections; and second, for a violation of the Travel Act, which forbids the use of any facility in interstate commerce (here, a cell phone) with the intent to promote certain illegal activity (here, bribery). DeMuro has pled guilty to both of these charges.

“Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy. If only one vote has been illegally rung up or fraudulently stuffed into a ballot box, the integrity of that election is undermined,” McSwain continued, stressing that the integrity of elections depends on “the honesty of our Election Officials” and emphasizing that the investigation is “ongoing and active.”

“I also want the public to know that my Office is taking every possible step that we can to ensure the integrity of every primary and general election in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in 2020,” he added.

The Department of Justice also released a statement on DeMuro’s guilty plea:

During his guilty plea hearing, Demuro admitted that while serving as an elected municipal Judge of Elections, he accepted bribes in the form of money and other things of value in exchange for adding ballots to increase the vote totals for certain candidates on the voting machines in his jurisdiction and for certifying tallies of all the ballots, including the fraudulent ballots.  Demuro further admitted that a local political consultant gave him directions and paid him money to add votes for candidates supported by the consultant, including candidates for judicial office whose campaigns actually hired the consultant, and other candidates for various federal, state and local elective offices preferred by that consultant for a variety of reasons.  Demuro also admitted that the votes he added in exchange for payments by the political consultant increased the number of votes fraudulently recorded and tallied for the consultant’s clients and preferred candidates, thereby diluting the ballots cast by actual voters.

“This defendant abused his office by engaging in election fraud for profit,” Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said.

“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,” he added.

DeMuro faces up to 15 years in prison and will be sentenced next month — June 30, 2020.

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