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October 14, 09

NEWS / Worker Pleads Guilty to Engaging in Ballot Fraud for Atlantic City Mayoral Campaign of Marty Small

TRENTON ¨C Attorney General Anne Milgram announced that a worker for the unsuccessful 2009 mayoral campaign of Atlantic City Councilman Marty Small pleaded guilty today to engaging in fraud involving messenger absentee ballots during the June Democratic primary.
Ronald Harris, 23, of Atlantic City, pleaded guilty to a charge of third-degree conspiracy to commit absentee ballot fraud before Superior Court Judge Robert Neustadter in Atlantic County, according to Criminal Justice Director Deborah L. Gramiccioni. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Harris be sentenced to a term of probation, conditioned upon him serving up to 364 days in the Atlantic County Jail. He may face a fine of up to $15,000.

Harris was charged in a 10-count state grand jury indictment returned on Sept. 3, which also charged Councilman Small and 12 other campaign workers and operatives. The indictment resulted from an investigation led by the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau and the State Police Official Corruption Bureau South Unit.

In pleading guilty, Harris admitted that he conspired with others involved in Small¡¯s mayoral campaign to submit false documents related to the procurement, casting, or tabulation of messenger absentee ballots in the Democratic primary in Atlantic City.

Deputy Attorney General Anthony Picione, who is deputy chief of the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau, and Deputy Attorney General Robert Czepiel Jr. took the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 4.
The charges are pending against the remaining defendants. Small and the other defendants are each charged in the indictment with conspiracy (2nd degree), four counts of election fraud (2nd degree), absentee ballot fraud (3rd degree), tampering with public records (3rd degree), falsifying records (4th degree) and forgery (4th degree). Four defendants are also charged with hindering apprehension or prosecution (3rd degree).

The indictment alleges that Small and the other defendants conspired to commit election fraud through the following schemes, among others:

¡öThey allegedly solicited applications for messenger absentee ballots from individuals not qualified to receive them and had the voters not fill in the name of the messenger, so they could fraudulently designate themselves as the authorized messengers or bearers.
¡öThey allegedly obtained messenger ballots from the county clerk and submitted them to the board of elections as votes on behalf of voters who, in fact, never received or voted the ballots or, in some cases, were given only the security envelope for the ballot and were told to sign it. Those voters were not given the opportunity to vote in most instances.
¡öThey allegedly picked up sealed absentee ballots from voters, unsealed them and, if they were votes for mayoral candidates other than Small, destroyed them, thereby disenfranchising those voters. If they were votes for Small, they allegedly resealed them and submitted them as votes.
¡öThey allegedly illegally instructed voters to fill in messenger ballots as votes for Small.
¡öThey allegedly submitted voter registration applications and messenger ballot applications on behalf of individuals who were not residents of Atlantic City, falsely representing they were.
¡öThey allegedly forged the signatures of voters on messenger ballots.
¡öThey allegedly fraudulently delivered messenger ballot applications and messenger ballots to voters simultaneously and instructed the voters to fill out both during the same visit.
Small and the indicted members of his campaign staff allegedly sought to maximize the number of absentee ballots messengered by the campaign by enlisting operatives and campaign workers to engage in fraud and by paying campaign workers based on how many messenger ballots they collected. The workers allegedly were told to direct voters to vote for the Small ticket, or simply have the voters sign the ballots so the workers could fill them out as votes for the Small ticket.


Tags: public records, public record, document,


AnnaMaria Realbuto
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