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Press Release

Pennsylvania State Senator and Pennsylvania Democratic Party Official Charged in Vote Buying Scheme

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A Pennsylvania State Senator and a Pennsylvania Democratic Party Official were charged in a federal indictment for their involvement in a bribery and fraud scheme related to the 2011 election for Democratic Ward Leader for Philadelphia’s Eighth Ward. 

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division made the announcement. 

Lawrence “Larry” Farnese, 47, and Ellen Chapman, 62, both of Philadelphia, were charged with conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, and violations of the Travel Act.  According to the indictment, at the time of the alleged illegal conduct, Farnese was a Pennsylvania State Senator and a candidate for Democratic Ward Leader of the Eighth Ward and Chapman was a member of the Eighth Ward Democratic Committee.

The indictment alleges that from May to December 2011, Farnese and Chapman devised a bribe scheme in which Farnese paid $6,000 to a college study-abroad program for Chapman’s daughter in exchange for Chapman’s agreement to use her position with the Eighth Ward Democratic Committee to support Farnese in the upcoming ward leader election.  According to the indictment, Chapman had originally intended to support a different candidate in the ward leader election.  The indictment also alleges that Farnese made the $6,000 payment using campaign funds and disguised the true purpose of the payment by falsely listing it as a “donation” on the campaign’s finance report. 

The charges and allegations in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Jonathan Kravis and Peter Halpern of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.  

Updated August 12, 2021

Public Corruption
Voting and Elections
Press Release Number: 16-553