Three former Philadelphia elections officials pleaded guilty Wednesday in Common Pleas Court to misdemeanor charges of violating the state’s election code and were each sentenced to one year of probation.
Under a plea deal, felony fraud charges were dropped against Robin Trainor, 56; Laura Murtaugh, 57; and Cheryl Ali, also 57.
Trainor served as the judge of elections in Juniata Park’s 33d Ward, Fifth Division. Murtaugh was the minority election inspector in that division.
Ali served as a voting machine inspector in Point Breeze’s 36th Ward.
In the Juniata Park case, prosecutors have said that the District Attorney’s Election Fraud Task Force was called to the polling station at Castor Avenue and Cayuga Street in last year’s primary.
According to witnesses, Trainor went into a voting booth while her husband was inside casting a vote. Afterward, she stepped out of the booth, spoke to Murtaugh, signed the election register under her 23-year-old son’s name, reset the voting machine, and returned to the voting booth. Another vote was cast while Trainor and her husband were behind the curtain, prosecutors have said.
Trainor was not allowed to work as judge of elections because she is a public employee.
Trainor pleaded guilty before Judge Robert Coleman to two misdemeanor charges — failure to perform duty and falsely holding the position of an election officer. Murtaugh pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor — failure to perform duty.
The charges against Ali stem from illegal election activity in Point Breeze’s 36th Ward, 10th Division, during the May 2014 primary.
Ali told investigators she voted on behalf of her mother because she was ill. She also said she served as machine inspector in the 36th Ward’s Eighth Division in the 2014 general election although she did not live there.
Ali pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges – unlawful assistance in voting and falsely holding the position of an election officer.
Assistant District Attorney Andrew Wellbrock said afterward that the three defendants will not be allowed to vote for four years. Any violation of the state’s Election Code disenfranchises a person for four years starting on the day of conviction, he said.
All three women were represented by the Montoya Shaffer firm. Attorney Zac Shaffer said the three are no longer serving in their elections posts.
To read the complete article in The Philadelphia Inquirer, please click here.