PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A former judge of elections in South Philadelphia has pleaded guilty to federal charges that he “stuffed the ballot box” in exchange for bribes from a political consultant.
U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain announced the charges in a video, describing the actions of the defendant — 73-year-old Domenick DeMuro — as “ringing up votes” for chosen candidates.
“He would add the fraudulent votes by literally standing in the voting booth and voting over and over and over again as fast as he could when he thought the coast was clear,” McSwain said.
McSwain said DeMuro cast phony votes in the 2014, 2015 and 2016 elections in return for bribes from an unnamed political consultant hired by candidates in those elections.
Oddly, the charges say DeMuro cast votes for the consultant’s Common Pleas Court candidate in 2014, but there was no Common Pleas race that year.
It says he cast votes for three of the consultant’s judicial candidates in 2015.
The number of votes DeMuro cast was relatively small, but McSwain maintains they had a big impact.
“If only one vote has been illegally rung up or fraudulently stuffed into a ballot box, the integrity of that election is undermined,” he said.
DeMuro is charged in an information instead of an indictment, often a sign the defendant is co-operating, and McSwain said the investigation is continuing, prompting speculation in political circles that the actual target is the consultant, who is also described as a former elected official.
The only former elected official paid as a consultant by judicial candidates who did well in DeMuro’s district in 2015 was former Congressman Michael “Ozzie” Myers, who was indicted in the ABSCAM investigation. Attempts to reach him and his lawyer were unsuccessful.
DeMuro’s attorney declined comment.