2016-10-18 / Front Page

Sanford City Councilor makes plea deal on Clean Election charges

Victor DiGregorio expected to plead guilty to six counts
Tammy Wells, Senior Staff Writer
SANFORD — In an arrangement that avoids jail time, city councilor Victor DiGregorio has agreed to plead guilty to six counts of making false statements to the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices in his failed bid for a seat in the Legislature a year ago, his attorney said today.
The plea arrangement, if accepted by a judge during a scheduled court appearance Monday, would see DiGregorio serve seven days in an alternative sentencing program, performing public service.
“It is his intention,” to plead guilty to the six charges of unsworn falsification, said DiGregorio’s attorney, Tyler J. Smith.
He said his client intends to speak to the matter at tonight’s city council meeting, set for 6 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.
A conviction on the six Class D misdemeanor charges jeopardizes the remainder of DiGregorio’s current city council term, which expires Dec. 31.
Sanford’s municipal charter contains a provision that states a person is no longer qualified to be a councilor if convicted of a crime that carries a jail term greater than six months. Maine’s criminal code provides that an individual convicted of a Class D crime be sentenced to a definite period of time of less than one year.
DiGregorio is seeking re-election to his council seat on Nov. 8.
Smith said he would not comment on his client’s legal situation with respect to the city council.
DiGregorio was charged with six counts of unsworn falsification and one count of theft by deception, which is scheduled to be dismissed.
The charges, filed Feb. 8, accuse DiGregorio of attempting to steal Maine Clean Elections Act funds when he signed forms stating he had collected 60 required $5 contribution in his independent bid for House District 19. The seat had become vacant upon the death of Rep. Bill Noon in July 2015. DiGregorio trailed the pack in a three-way race for the seat in November that year, which was won by Republican Matthew Harrington.
He was denied Clean Elections Act funding, according to ethics commission Executive Director Jonathan Wayne, because he did not actually collect $5 contributions from some of the people signing the forms. DiGregorio did not appeal the denial of funds, which came in October, prior to the election.
According to a report issued by the staff of the ethics commission in that denied DiGregorio the Clean Election funds, the commission staff attempted to contact a sampling of individuals listed on DiGregorio’s forms to verify they had made $5 contributions.
The commission staff received responses from 11 people. Ten of the 11 said they had not made a contribution, and five people said DiGregorio asked them to sign money orders even though they hadn’t contributed money.
"There was no intention of my trying to deceive the state," said 
DiGregorio in a telephone interview this afternoon.
DiGregorio said his mistake was collecting donations and signatures 
from people who, as it turns out, were not in the district. When he 
turned those contributions into the ethics commission, he was informed 
they were not eligible, so he  tracked  down as many as he could to 
return the money, but some told him to keep it, he said.
Then, when he  sought signatures from others, he said they told him to come back on payday, but DiGregorio instead said  he  used the $5 contributions the original donors wouldn't accept as the new registrants contributions.
DiGregorio is scheduled to enter his guilty pleas in an appearance set for 8:30 a.m. Monday at York County Superior Court in Alfred.
DiGregorio in August rejected a plea offered by the state that would have included an unspecified amount of jail time.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.
— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or twells@journaltribune.com.

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