U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain Announces Charges and Guilty Plea of Former Philadelphia Judge of Elections Who Committed Election Fraud
PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced today that Domenick J. DeMuro, 73, of Philadelphia, PA, a former Judge of Elections for the 39th Ward, 36th Division in South Philadelphia, has been charged and has pled guilty to a two-count Information charging (1) conspiracy to deprive Philadelphia voters of their civil rights by fraudulently stuffing the ballot boxes for specific Democratic candidates in the 2014, 2015, and 2016 primary elections, and (2) a violation of the Travel Act, which forbids the use of any facility in interstate commerce (here, a cell phone) with the intent to promote certain illegal activity (here, bribery). U.S. Attorney McSwain’s video statement providing additional details about this case is available on the Office website here: https://www.justice.gov/usao-edpa/video/united-states-attorney-william-m-mcswain-announces-guilty-plea-former-philadelphia.
The Judge of Elections is an elective office and a paid position. In that role, DeMuro was responsible for overseeing the entire election process and voter activities of his Division. The Judge of Elections is charged with overseeing the Division’s polling place in accordance with federal and state election laws and is required to attend Election Board Training conducted by the Philadelphia City Commissioners.
The voting machines at each polling station, including DeMuro’s station, generate records in the form of a printed receipt documenting the use of each voting machine. The printed receipt, also known as the “results receipt,” shows the vote totals, and the Judge of Elections and other Election Board Officials at each polling place attest to the accuracy of machine results.
During his guilty plea hearing, DeMuro admitted that an unnamed political consultant gave DeMuro directions and paid him money to illegally add votes for certain Democratic candidates. These candidates were individuals running for judicial office whose campaigns had hired the consultant, as well as other candidates for various federal, state, and local elective offices who were preferred by this consultant for a variety of reasons.
The political consultant would solicit monetary payments from his clients in the form of cash or checks as “consulting fees,” and then use portions of these funds to pay Election Board Officials, including DeMuro, in return for tampering with the election results. After receiving payments ranging from between $300 to $5,000 per election from the consultant, DeMuro would add fraudulent votes on the voting machine – also known as “ringing up” votes – for the consultant’s clients and preferred candidates, thereby diluting and distorting the ballots cast by actual voters. 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.
“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. The charges announced today do not erase what he did, but they do ensure that he is held to account for those actions,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy. If even one vote is fraudulently rung up, the integrity of that election is compromised. I want the public to know that this investigation is active and ongoing, and my Office is taking every possible step that we can to ensure the integrity of the upcoming primary and general elections in the nine counties of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.”
“This defendant abused his office by engaging in election fraud for profit,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Today’s conviction makes it clear that the Department of Justice will do all in its power to protect the integrity of elections and maintain public confidence in all levels of elected government.”
“Domenick DeMuro put a thumb on the scale for certain candidates, in exchange for bribes,” said Michael J. Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “As public trust in the electoral process is vital, the FBI’s message today is clear: election interference of any kind, by hostile foreign actors or dishonest local officials, won’t be tolerated. This is an active, ongoing investigation and we're asking anyone with information on election fraud to contact the FBI.”
“The citizenry of the City of Philadelphia, as well as this Commonwealth and these United States, needs to be confident in the integrity of our elections,” said Captain Leo Hannon, Director of the Pennsylvania State Police, Special Investigations Division. As this investigation clearly illustrates, the Pennsylvania State Police will relentlessly pursue any breach of the sacred trust bestowed upon our public officials. Our agency is proud to partner with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Attorney’s Office, and the United States Department of Justice as a whole to root out corruption at any level of our government. Matters of public corruption and public integrity have been, and shall remain, a top priority of the Pennsylvania State Police.”
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Pennsylvania State Police. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Eric L. Gibson and Richard C. Pilger, U.S. Department of Justice, Director of Elections Crimes Branch, Criminal Division, Public Integrity Section.