Former Pennsylvania Congressman Admits to Election Fraud Scheme

Former Pennsylvania Congressman Michael “Ozzie” Myers pleaded guilty this week to an election fraud scheme that spanned the 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 elections.

Federal prosecutor Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that the 79-year-old ex-representative admitted to “conspiracy to deprive voters of civil rights, bribery, obstruction of justice, falsification of voting records, and conspiring to illegally vote in a federal election.” He arranged to have ballots stuffed on behalf of Democratic candidates in two divisions of Philadelphia’s 39th Ward, which is located in South Philadelphia East. 

Pursuant to Myers’s fraudulent intentions, he bribed Domenick J. Demuro, a judge of elections for the ward’s 36th Division and conspired with Marie Beren, an acting judge of elections for the ward’s 2nd Division. Both Demuro and Beren were charged separately and pleaded guilty.

In exchange for payments that ranged between $300 and $5,000 per election, Demuro agreed to manipulate voting machines to illicitly pad the vote totals for certain candidates in primary elections. Myers worked for some of those candidates in a consulting capacity. Prosecutors also say that Myers suborned Demuro to deceive investigators about these violations.

Myers also admitted to working closely with Beren toward ensuring that she added votes to the totals his preferred candidates received on Primary Election Day. 

Williams characterized the guilty pleas and impending convictions in this case as a victory for election integrity.

“Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy,” she said in a statement. “If even one vote has been illegally cast or if the integrity of just one election official is compromised, it diminishes faith in process. Votes are not things to be purchased and democracy is not for sale. If you are a political consultant, election official, or work with the polling places in any way, I urge you to do your job honestly and faithfully. That is what the public deserves and what the federal government will enforce.”

Myers represented Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia-based 1st Congressional District from 1976 to 1980. He was expelled from the U.S. House of Representatives for bribery, having been caught via the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s ABSCAM sting operation. Before his congressional tenure, he served in the State House.

Jacqueline Maguire, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division, said Myers’s morals and ethics “have long been out of whack.”

“Decades ago, he valued a fake sheikh’s bribes more than the ethical obligations of his elected federal office,” she said. “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.”

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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Pennsylvania Daily Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Vote Here Sign” by Erik (HASH) Hersman. CC BY 2.0.



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