Massachusetts rep to plead guilty to voter fraud charges
A state representative in the Massachusetts General Court has agreed to plead guilty to civil rights violations and resign his elected position for his role in submitting fraudulent absentee ballot applications and casting invalid ballots in multiple elections in 2009 and 2010.
Representative Stephen Smith, 57, of Everett, Massachusetts, will plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of deprivation of rights under color of law.
According to the information, Smith is the representative of the 28th Middlesex District in Massachusetts, which includes the city of Everett and a portion of the city of Malden, Massachusetts, which both neighbor Boston.
Smith is alleged to have cast invalid absentee ballots in support of his races for public office for voters who were ineligible or otherwise unaware of ballots being cast in their names.
Smith submitted fraudulent Massachusetts Official Absentee Applications, which resulted in the issuance of absentee ballots.
Smith was able to obtain many of the absentee ballots and cause them to be delivered to the ineligible voters, who would then cast votes despite lacking any eligibility to do so, or Smith would cast the ballots himself.
For those absentee ballots issued to unaware voters, one or more government officials assisted Smith in intercepting the ballots prior to their delivery to the voters' addresses, and those ballots were cast for the unaware voters.
The plea agreement that Smith entered into calls for him to resign his position in the Massachusetts House of Representatives effective January 1, 2013, and he will not be allowed to seek elected office for a period of five years.
U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said, "Fair and free elections are the foundation that this great nation was built upon. Our electoral system is unrivaled, and it is egregious that an elected member of our Commonwealth would rob his constituents of a fair and honest election.
"I want the voters of Massachusetts to know that we will continue to root out public corruption and restore confidence in our state's political system."
"Rep. Smith compromised the legitimacy of his races for public office by facilitating the casting of invalid ballots for ineligible and unaware voters," said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer.
"In doing so, he undermined the democratic process in Massachusetts and violated the public's trust."
"Over the last two years, the FBI methodically uncovered a voter fraud scheme designed to strip Massachusetts voters of their right to a fair election," said Richard DesLauriers, special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston Division.
"Representative Smith, who was a member of the legislature's Joint Committee on Election Laws, embarked on a scheme that he knew violated the ideals of our nation and disregarded the proud history of the commonwealth. Whenever the pillars of government administration-equity, efficiency, and effectiveness-are undermined by corrupt public officials, the FBI will focus on those responsible."
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugenia M. Carris of the U.S. Attorney's Public Corruption Unit for the District of Massachusetts and Trial Attorney Jeffrey E. Tsai of the Justice Department's Criminal Division's Public Integrity Section.