PHILADELPHIA — A former U.S. Congressman from Philadelphia was charged Tuesday with conspiring to violate voting rights by fraudulently stuffing the ballot boxes for specific candidates in the 2014, 2015, and 2016 primary elections, bribery of an election official, falsification of records, voting more than once in federal elections, and obstruction of justice, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday.
Michael “Ozzie” Myers, 77, a Philadelphia Democrat, is accused of conspiring with and bribing the former Judge of Elections for the 39th Ward, 36th Division, Domenick J. Demuro, according to the Department of Justice.
Demuro, who pleaded guilty previously in federal court in Philadelphia, was responsible for overseeing the entire election process and all voter activities of his division in accord with federal and state election laws, the Department said.
“Free and fair elections are the hallmark of our system of government,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division in a press release. “The Department of Justice has zero tolerance for corruption of the electoral process, and we will spare no effort in investigating and prosecuting those who would seek an unfair advantage at the polls by bribing state and local officials responsible for ensuring the fairness of our elections.”
Myers is charged with bribing Demuro to illegally add votes for certain candidates of their mutual party in primary elections. Some of these candidates were individuals running for judicial office whose campaigns had hired Myers, and others were candidates for various federal, state, and local elective offices whom Myers favored for a variety of reasons.
According to the indictment, Myers would solicit payments from his clients in the form of cash or checks as “consulting fees,” and then use portions of these funds to pay Demuro and others in return for tampering with election results.
After receiving payments ranging from between $300 to $5,000 per election from the consultant, the court papers allege Demuro would add fraudulent votes on the voting machine – also known as “ringing up” votes – for Myers’ clients and preferred candidates, thereby diluting the value of ballots cast by actual voters, the indictment states.
At Myers’ direction, 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, according to the indictment.
Myers is also accused of directing Demuro to lie about the circumstances of the bribes and the ballot-stuffing scheme to investigators, the indictment says.
This case is being investigated by the FBI with assistance from the Pennsylvania State Police. It is being prosecuted by Richard C. Pilger, Director of the Elections Crimes Branch of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric L. Gibson.