May 22 (UPI) -- The Justice Department says a former election official in Philadelphia has pleaded guilty to accepting bribes to cast fraudulent ballots for candidates.
The department said the official, Domenick DeMuro, pleaded to conspiring to deprive persons of civil rights and using interstate facilities in aid of bribery. The charges were unsealed on Thursday.
Prosecutors said DeMuro admitted to casting fraudulent ballots and certifying bogus voting results during the 2014, 2015 and 2016 primary elections in Philadelphia. They said he took money to add ballots and increase vote totals for certain candidates in his jurisdiction.
"This is utterly reprehensible conduct," U.S. Attorney William McSwain said in a statement. "Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy. If even one vote is fraudulently rung up, the integrity of that election is compromised.
"I want the public to know that this investigation is active and ongoing, and my office is taking every possible step that we can to ensure the integrity of the upcoming primary and general elections in the nine counties of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania."
Prosecutors said fraudulent ballots added by DeMuro represented 22 percent of the total votes cast in his in 2014, 15 percent in 2015 and 17 percent in 2016.
Al Schmidt, vice chairman of the Office of Philadelphia City Commissioners, said his office became suspicious of vote totals from DeMuro's district and alerted the district attorney.
DeMuro is scheduled to be sentenced on June 30.