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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Former Cohoes Mayor Sentenced for Stealing Campaign Contributions

ALBANY, NEW YORK – Shawn Morse, age 52, the former Mayor of Cohoes, New York, was sentenced today to two years of probation, 200 hours of community service, a $3,000 fine, and forfeiture of $12,250, for defrauding his supporters by stealing campaign contributions for his personal benefit. 

The announcement was made by United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith and Tina Fuerholzer, Supervisory Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

During his guilty plea on August 20, 2019, Morse admitted that he and his campaign treasurer, Ralph Signoracci, solicited and received contributions to his political committee the “Friends of Shawn Morse” and a political action committee.  Signoracci then provided some of those funds to Morse for his personal use including an August 2015 contribution of $500 Morse used to pay a personal bill.  In total, as part of the scheme, Morse personally obtained $12,250 in political contributions from at least 10 victims to pay personal expenses at hotels, restaurants, and retailers.

As part of the scheme, Signoracci concealed the nature of the fraudulent expenditures by falsely reporting their purpose or by not reporting or disclosing them on campaign disclosure reports, as was required of local candidates for public office.  Signoracci pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and was sentenced to a one-year term of probation and 100 hours of community service.

This case was investigated by the FBI, and was prosecuted by former Assistant U.S. Attorney Megan Kinsella Kistler and Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Hanlon.

 

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Public Corruption
Updated February 5, 2020