Politics

Former congressman Ozzie Myers pleads guilty to election fraud charges for the 2nd time

Michael “Ozzie” Myers, a former U.S. congressman who became a political consultant, has pleaded guilty to charges related to fraudulently stuffing ballot boxes in South Philadelphia for Democratic candidates between 2014 and 2018, the Justice Department announced Monday.

Myers admitted to bribing Domenick Demuro, a former judge of election in the 39th Ward, to add additional votes for candidates he backed, including some who had hired him as a political consultant, U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams said. Federal officials say Myers gave DeMuro between $300 and $5,000 for the fraudulent votes.

Myers also admitted to conspiring with Marie Beren, another former judge of elections in the 39th Ward, to fraudulently boost the vote totals of candidates he supported, Williams said. Beren allegedly would encourage voters to cast their ballots for Myers’ preferred candidates and also add additional votes.

Both Demuro and Beren allegedly added votes to judicial candidates whose campaigns had hired Myers, as well as his preferred candidates for federal, state and local offices, prosecutors said. Demuro and Beren each were charged separately by federal prosecutors. Demuro pleaded guilty in May 2020; Beren did so last October.

Prosecutors have not revealed the candidates that benefited from the scheme, but said most, if not all, of them were unaware of what he was doing.

Federal prosecutors said in a sentencing memo that his “criminal efforts were generally, although not exclusively, directed at securing election victories for local judicial candidates running for Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas or Municipal Court who had employed Myers as a ‘political consultant.’”

Myers, now 79, served six years in the Pennsylvania House before his 1976 election to Congress. He was expelled from Congress in 1980 after he was caught taking a $50,000 bribe as part of the FBI’s Abscam sting investigation. Myers spent three years in prison. After he was released in 1985, he began working as a political consultant.

Myers is currently facing up to 20 years in prison.

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: WHYY.ORG

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