A Democratic elections judge in Pennsylvania has pleaded guilty to taking bribes to stuff ballot boxes, newly unsealed court documents show.
Domenick J. DeMuro, a former judge of elections and Democratic committeeman in Philadelphia, took thousands of dollars from a political consultant to cast fraudulent ballots and certify phony returns, according to the indictment.
DeMuro pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to deprive persons of civil rights and one count of using interstate facilities in aid of bribery in a federal court on March 16.
The guilty plea comes as President Donald Trump is escalating attacks on balloting alternatives like vote-by-mail. Some states, including battlegrounds like Michigan, are discouraging in-person voting due to the coronavirus pandemic and sending voters unsolicited ballot applications. The president claims vote-by-mail is rife with fraud—though those charges are contested by elections experts—and has threatened to withhold funds from states that use such a system.
“DeMuro fraudulently stuffed the ballot box by literally standing in a voting booth and voting over and over, as fast as he could, while he thought the coast was clear. This is utterly reprehensible conduct,” U.S. Attorney William McSwain said in a statement. “The charges announced today do not erase what he did, but they do ensure that he is held to account for those actions.”
The case, which was prosecuted by the Department of Justice, has proceeded under seal since early March and was made public for the first time on Thursday.
As judge of elections, DeMuro supervised the entire balloting process in his southeast Philadelphia division. According to the indictment, an unnamed consultant paid DeMuro thousands of dollars to cast false votes for three Democratic candidates running for local judicial posts. The consultant also directed DeMuro to add votes for various candidates at the federal, state, and local level for different reasons.
Though no candidate is named in legal filings, the indictment alleges that the consultant solicited funds from candidates and paid that money directly forward to DeMuro and other election board officials to tamper with election results. McSwain said the investigation is ongoing, raising the prospect of additional charges against new defendants.
The defendant is currently free on $10,000 bail. Sentencing is scheduled for June 30.
The case is U.S. v DeMuro in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.