Former state Representative Stephen Smith has pled guilty to charges that he committed voter fraud in multiple local elections in 2009 and 2010 by abusing the absentee ballot procedure to assure his victories in those elections.
Smith’s sentencing is due to occur today, Friday, January 11, 2013 at 2:00pm in Room 24 on the seventh floor of the John Joseph Moakely US Federal Courthouse in Boston. Chief Magistrate Judge Leo Sorokin will preside.
Prosecutors are recommending Smith receive the minimum sentence of six months in prison instead of the maximum of two years.
Why have they recommended the minimum sentence? Smith betrayed his constituents not just once by manipulating elections to win, but twice, by serving on the Joint Committee on Election Laws as he was committing voter fraud inEverettelections!
Smith’s attorneys, Peter Bellotti and Peter Horstmann, have made light of the charges against Smith from their comfortable Boston office on Berkeley Street, calling them “only two misdemeanors.”
However, the US criminal code calls it the Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law. FBI’s Special Agent Richard DesLauriers is quoted as calling it a “voter fraud scheme designed to stripMassachusettsvoters of their rights to a fair election.”
And Kevin Cullen says in his column on page two of last Sunday’s Boston Globe, “the rest of us call [it] fixing elections.”
Yet even Cullen wonders why Smith’s manipulating of multiple elections over several years amounts to only misdemeanors. “Since when” Cullen writes “does the FBI bother itself with misdemeanors?” referring to the agency’s two-year undercover investigation that is still ongoing.
Smith’s admission of guilt should have had prosecutors, not to mention Everett voters, in a frenzy wondering if Smith’s wins in past elections not covered in his plea bargain were also compromised by use of his absentee ballot voter fraud scheme.
Did Smith use his alleged absentee ballots scheme to win all those races for Alderman and School Committee? Did Smith’s attempt to take over the School Committee with his now infamous “band of misfits” (all were soundly defeated with the exception of Smith) involve his voter fraud scheme and did they agree to run because Smith told them they could not lose?
That’s all history now. These questions may not seem important any more …unless one remembers that Smith got paid for years with Everett taxpayers’ hard-earned tax dollars during this country’s worst economic crisis in recent history.
Smith was elected Alderman in 1997, 1999, and 2007. For those three two-year terms,Everettpaid Smith a yearly salary of $7,500 for a total of $45,000 and contributed a total of $120,000 to his Alderman’s benefits package.
From 2007 until his resignation four years later, Smith was paid $5,500 a year as a member of Everett’s School Committee and $61,440 a year as state Representative (not including his per diem allowance or his benefits package from the state). Just four years of double-dipping earned Smith $22,000 as a School Committee member and $245,760 as state Representative.
However, Smith’s “raiding” of Everett taxpayers didn’t stop there. Daughter Stephanie served on the Council with Smith for four years and was paid $5,500 a year plus a benefits package requiring a contribution of $20,000 a year from the city.
The only problem was that there was a residency requirement for city Council members, and Stephanie was living at 15 Lone Pine Lane in West Peabody, not at her father’s address in Everett as she had claimed when she ran for office. Stephanie did not run for re-election when it was discovered thatPeabody was sending her notices of eleven unpaid traffic tickets and unpaid excise taxes, thus confirming her residency inPeabody.
In the next election to fill the Council’s now vacant position, many voters were understandably shocked when another member of Smith’s family, daughter Carlie, was elected to fill the remainder of Stephanie’s term. Did Smith vote both of his daughters into office by again abusing the absentee ballots process?
When Smith’s many past campaign victories are reviewed, it seems ridiculous that prosecutors have allowed Smith to plead guilty to only two misdemeanors of voter fraud in only 2009 and 2010 and have recommended just six months in prison for Smith.
Not for nothing was Smith called the “top vote getter in Everett” in the city’s political circles, although no one was quite sure where he was getting all the votes to win campaign after campaign. Now it is known that at least in some elections, Smith has admitted to using absentee ballots to vote himself into office.
In retrospect, Smith may never have been fairly elected to any city office! And unless his sentencing today changes things, Smith’s plea agreement allows him to run again for elective office just five years from today.
That ought to send a chill down the spine of every voter and taxpayer in Everett.