Cohoes Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Steal Political Campaign Contributions
ALBANY, NEW YORK – Ralph V. Signoracci, IV, age 44, of Cohoes, New York, pled guilty today to conspiring with Cohoes Mayor Shawn Morse to defraud Morse’s supporters by stealing campaign contributions for Morse’s personal benefit.
The announcement was made by United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith and James N. Hendricks, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Signoracci, while a member of the City of Cohoes Common Council and then an Albany County Legislator, served as treasurer of a political committee called “Friends of Shawn Morse,” from approximately November 2013 through January 2019. He also served as treasurer of the political action committee “The Chairman’s PAC.”
In pleading guilty, Signoracci admitted that he and Morse solicited and received contributions to the committees. Signoracci, at Morse’s direction, withdrew funds from the committees’ bank accounts so that Morse could use the funds to pay for his personal expenses, including vacations, entertaining, dining, and home repairs. Signoracci also admitted to illegally using contributions made to The Chairman’s PAC to directly benefit Morse’s 2015 mayoral campaign.
Signoracci admitted that on behalf of Morse, he concealed the nature of these expenditures by falsely reporting the purpose of the expenditures or by not reporting or disclosing them on campaign disclosure reports, as was required of local candidates for public office.
Signoracci pled guilty to one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud, and faces up to 20 years in prison, a term of post-release supervision of up to 3 years, and a fine of up to $250,000, when he is sentenced by Senior United States District Judge Thomas J. McAvoy. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, and other factors.
Morse was arraigned on February 28 on an indictment charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, five counts of wire fraud, and one count of making a false statement to the FBI. The charges against Morse are merely accusations, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
This case is being investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Megan Kinsella Kistler.