Former Democratic House Rep. Michael “Ozzie” Myers of Pennsylvania pleaded guilty Monday, admitting that he spearheaded a scheme to manipulate state election results in favor of Democratic candidates.
The disgraced former Philadelphia congressman had become a political operative after his conviction in the FBI’s Abscam sting of the 1970s and ’80s. This time around, he was accused of bribing judges to stuff ballot boxes and falsely certify manipulated results during the state’s 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 elections.
Myers pleaded guilty to “conspiracy to deprive voters of civil rights, bribery, obstruction of justice, falsification of voting records, and conspiring to illegally vote in a federal election,” U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced Monday.
“Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy. If even one vote has been illegally cast or if the integrity of just one election official is compromised, it diminishes faith in process,” Williams said, according to a Monday news release from her office. “Votes are not things to be purchased and democracy is not for sale.”
Myers admitted that he bribed former Judge of Elections for the 39th Ward, 36th Division in South Philadelphia, Domenick J. Demuro, and former Judge of Elections for the 39th Ward, 2nd Division in South Philadelphia, Marie Beren, as part of his fraud operation.
For manipulating results from Demuro’s jurisdiction, Myers would pay the bought-off judge $300 to $5,000 per election to add fraudulent votes to the voting machine for his clients and preferred candidates.
After ringing up the fraudulent votes on election day, Demuro would then certify that the manipulated results were accurate.
Demuro was charged separately and pleaded guilty in 2020 for his involvement in the fraud operation.
Myers and Beren undertook a relatively more sophisticated scheme in the 39th Ward, 2nd Divison of South Philadelphia.
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This fraud operation included a combination of appointing close associates of Beren to the local Board of Elections, casting false votes and urging actual voters to vote for candidates Myers preferred.
Beren, in her separate guilty plea in 2021, admitted that on about every election day, Myers would drive her to the polling station. During the ride, Myers would instruct Beren on his clients and preferred candidates, telling her who must get the fraudulent votes.
After the polls opened, Beren would ask actual voters to cast their votes for Myers’ clients and preferred candidates and she would falsely vote on behalf of those who did not physically come to the polling stations.
The bought-off judge and the political operative would then remain in contact throughout the day on their cellphones, with Beren reporting to Myers the number of actual voters appearing at the polling station.
Based on the number of legitimate voters, the two would calibrate the number of fraudulent votes cast. They would increase the fraudulent votes added if fewer people showed up and decrease the fraudulent votes added if more people came to the station.
To cover her tracks, Beren took special care to ensure that the number of individuals who signed into polling books and on the voter’s list matched the number of cast ballots.
To that end, Beren and her associates would falsify polling books, the list of voters and party enrollment for her jurisdiction. After doing this, she would certify the results as authentic.
Myers served in Congress from 1976 to 1980. According to Fox News, “he was expelled from Congress in 1980 after being caught taking bribes in the Abscam sting investigation, when he was convicted of bribery and conspiracy for taking money from FBI agents who posed as Arab sheiks. He served more than a year in prison.”
“One thing you can say about Ozzie Myers: his values have long been out of whack,” FBI special agent Jacqueline Maguire said. “Decades ago, he valued a fake sheikh’s bribes more than the ethical obligations of his elected federal office. This time around, he valued his clients’ money and his own whims more than the integrity of multiple elections and the will of Philadelphia voters.”
“Free and fair elections are critical to the health of our democracy, which is why protecting the legitimacy of the electoral process at every level is such a priority for the FBI,” Maguire added.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania declined The Western Journal’s request for the names of the specific Democratic candidates Myers conspired to stuff the ballot boxes for.
“If you are a political consultant, election official, or work with the polling places in any way, I urge you to do your job honestly and faithfully. That is what the public deserves and what the federal government will enforce,” Williams said.