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Ex-congressman pleads guilty to stuffing ballot boxes for Democrats

Myers was expelled from Congress after accepting a bribe in another scheme decades ago

Published: June 8, 2022 4:05pm

Updated: June 8, 2022 5:07pm

Former Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Michael "Ozzie" Myers pleaded guilty to several election fraud charges, including orchestrating a scheme to "stuff the ballot boxes for specific Democratic candidates" in Pennsylvania elections from 2014 to 2018.

Myers admitted to bribing South Philadelphia election judge Domenick Demuro, who separately pleaded guilty in 2020 to accepting bribes. The former congressman told the court he bribed the 39th Ward, 36th Division election judge to illegally add votes for specific federal, state, and local Democratic candidates in primary elections, a Department of Justice press release stated Monday.

Some of the candidates who were helped by the bribes had hired Myers for their campaigns. They would pay Myers "consulting fees" via cash or check, and in turn, he would give Demuro $300 to $5,000 to ring up votes for his preferred candidates.

"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," the DOJ stated. Authorities also accused Myers of instructing Demuro to lie about the scheme to investigators.

Myers admitted to another election fraud conspiracy in which he worked with South Philadelphia election judge Marie Beren, who was charged separately and pleaded guilty in 2021.

The former congressman would drive Beren to the polls almost every Election Day. Before she opened the polls, Myers would tell her which candidates should receive fraudulent votes.

Beren would then advise voters to support those candidates and she would also cast ballots in support of Myers' preferred pick on behalf of people she know would not appear to vote in-person, the DOJ stated.

Beren would use a phone at the polling station to tell Myers about the total number of votes for his preferred candidates, authorities said.

"If actual voter turnout was high, Beren would add fewer fraudulent votes in support of Myers’ preferred candidates. From time to time, Myers would instruct Beren to shift her efforts from one of his preferred candidates to another. Specifically, Myers would instruct Beren “to throw support” behind another candidate during Election Day if he concluded that his first choice was comfortably ahead," the DOJ wrote.

Beren and her election board accomplices also falsified voting records. She "took pains to ensure that the number of ballots cast on the machines was a reflection of the number of voters signed into the polling books and the List of Voters," the agency observed.

"One thing you can say about Ozzie Myers: his values have long been out of whack," FBI Special Agent in Charge Jacqueline Maguire said.

Myers served in Congress from 1976 to 1980, when was expelled from the House of Representatives for bribery after being involved in the Abscam scandal.

"Decades ago, he valued a fake sheikh’s bribes more than the ethical obligations of his elected federal office. This time around, he valued his clients’ money and his own whims more than the integrity of multiple elections and the will of Philadelphia voters. Free and fair elections are critical to the health of our democracy, which is why protecting the legitimacy of the electoral process at every level is such a priority for the FBI," Maguire noted.

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