A former Democratic congressman from Philadelphia has been indicted on charges of bribing an election judge to stuff the ballot boxes for Democratic candidates in three consecutive primary elections, federal prosecutors announced Thursday.
Michael “Ozzie” Myers, 77, who was expelled from Congress in the 1980s for his role in the infamous “Abscam” scandal, is charged with bribery of an election official, falsification of records, voting more than once in federal elections and obstruction of justice.
The unsealed indictment says Myers paid Democratic election judge Domenick Demuro of Philadelphia anywhere from $300 to $5,000 per candidate to add fraudulent votes for certain Democrats on voting machines, a scheme known as “ringing up” votes.The alleged fraud took place in Democratic primaries in the heavily Democratic city in the 2014, 2015 and 2016 elections.
Demuro, who has pleaded guilty in the case, would add the fraudulent votes to the totals on Election Day, then would falsely certify that the voting-machine results were accurate, prosecutors said.
Mr. Myers was a Democratic consultant, and the candidates who benefited from the alleged voter fraud were his paying clients.
“Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy. If only one vote has been illegally rung up or fraudulently stuffed into a ballot box, the integrity of that entire election is undermined,” said U.S. Attorney William McSwain of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. “Votes are not things to be purchased and democracy is not for sale.”
Mr. Myers represented Pennsylvania’s First Congressional District from 1976 to 1980, until he was convicted in the FBI sting and sentenced to three years in prison. He was expelled from the House for his role in the bribery scheme, in which an undercover FBI agent posed as an Arab sheik interested in obtaining building permits and casino licenses in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
“Money talks in this business and bull— walks,” Myers famously told agents on an FBI recording as he accepted a $50,000 bribe in 1979. The operation was later dramatized in the 2013 film “American Hustle.”