Former Pennsylvania Democratic congressman charged with bribery and ballot stuffing

Pete Williams
·2 min read

WASHINGTON — Former Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Ozzie Myers has been charged with bribing election officials to add votes during primary elections to candidates he favored or who paid him as a campaign consultant, the Justice Department revealed Thursday.

Myers, 77, served two terms in Congress from 1977 to 1990. He is accused of bribing Domenick Demuro, the top election official in South Philadelphia's 39th Ward during primaries between 2014 and 2016.

A court filing said Myers sometimes paid Demuro in cash and told him, "If there was ever a question, know you'd say, well I gave the money out election day [to get out the vote]."

Demuro pleaded guilty to election fraud charges in March. His sentencing has been scheduled for September.

A grand jury indictment said Myers was a political consultant and "would solicit monetary payments from his clients, candidates for elective office, in the form of cash or checks as 'consulting fees.'" After receiving payments, Demuro would add votes that were never actually cast to candidate totals, known as "ringing up" votes.

Prosecutors said Myers would pay Demuro as much as $5,000 per election, but sometimes the vote fraud was much cheaper — as little as $300.

Myers helped clients running for federal, state, local and party offices, court documents said, including three candidates running for local judgeships. The documents did not say whether those candidates won their elections.

“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. “Votes are not things to be purchased and democracy is not for sale.”

The case could mean a return to prison for Myers. He was caught up in the Abscam scandal and videotaped receiving a $50,000 bribe from an undercover FBI agent.

"Money talks in this business and bull--- walks," he famously said on the tape. He was expelled from the House in 1980, convicted on bribery and conspiracy charges, and sentenced to three years in prison.