Disgraced former Democratic US Congressman Michael "Ozzie" Myers, 79, was sentenced to another 30 months in prison Tuesday, along with three years of supervised release and $100,000 in fines, after pleading guilty to "conspiracy to deprive voters of civil rights, bribery, obstruction of justice, falsification of voting records, conspiring to illegally vote in a federal election, and for orchestrating schemes to fraudulently stuff the ballot boxes," according to a press release from the US Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
In June 2022, the former congressman admitted in court to "bribing the Judge of Elections for the 39th Ward, 36th Division in South Philadelphia in a fraudulent scheme over several years," as well as bribing the election official "to illegally add votes for certain candidates of their mutual political party in primary elections," said US Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero.
According to Romero, Myers stuffed boxes for fellow Democrats in the 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 state elections.
"Some of these candidates were individuals running for judicial office whose campaigns had hired Myers, and others were candidates for various federal, state, and local elective offices that Myers favored for a variety of reasons," the press release stated. "Myers would solicit payments from his clients in the form of cash or checks as 'consulting fees,' and then use portions of these funds to pay election officials to tamper with election results."
Myers' attorneys — Noah Gorson and Arnold R. Silverstein — urged United States District Court Judge Paul S. Diamond to consider sentencing their client to house arrest in lieu of prison time, citing his old age, ailing health, and "the good he's done," reported the Philadelphia Inquirer.
"He's made some mistakes," Silverstein told Diamond. "But the good he's done far outweighs those mistakes."
Despite the defense team's efforts, the judge remanded Myers into custody immediately following the hearing to serve 2.5 years, causing chaos to erupt in the courtroom.
Myers' son reportedly attempted to leap across the benches in the courtroom, shouting "I'm just trying to say goodbye," as US Marshals surrounded his father to take him to prison.
Myers previously served time in federal prison for his involvement in the 1970s "Abscam" scandal during his tenure in office, named for the FBI codename given to the bureau's sting operation that led to the convictions of seven members of Congress, among others, for bribery and corruption.
The Pennsylvania Democrat was caught taking money from FBI agents posing as Arab sheiks. He ended up being expelled from Congress and serving more than a year in prison, according to the Washington Post.
"Myers also admitted to conspiring to commit election fraud with another former Judge of Elections for the 39th Ward, 2nd Division in South Philadelphia," the press release continued. "Myers' accomplice was the de facto Judge of Elections and effectively ran the polling places in her division by installing close associates to serve as members of the Board of Elections."
"These weren’t elections in the 39th Ward," Diamond remarked during Tuesday's hearing. "These were the Myers elections."
"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," said Romero in the press release.
"This defendant used his position, knowledge of the process, and connections to fix elections for his preferred candidates, which demonstrates a truly flagrant disregard for the laws which govern our elections. He will now spend 30 months in prison as penalty for his crimes."
Romero's views were echoed by Jacqueline Maguire, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division.
"Protecting the legitimacy of elections is critical to ensuring the public’s trust in the process," she said in a statement. "Through his actions, Ozzie Myers pointedly disdained both the will of Philadelphia voters and the rule of law. He's now a federal felon twice over, heading back behind bars, with time to consider the great consequence of free and fair elections."
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