Victor DiGregori, left, pictured here with his attorney, Tyler Smith, pleaded guilty and was convicted Monday of election fraud - six Class D misdemeanor counts of unsworn falsification - at York County Superior Court on Monday. //TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

Victor DiGregori, left, pictured here with his attorney, Tyler Smith, pleaded guilty and was convicted Monday of election fraud – six Class D misdemeanor counts of unsworn falsification – at York County Superior Court on Monday. //TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

SANFORD — Victor DiGregorio pleaded guilty and was convicted of six counts of unsworn falsification Monday, admitting he falsified contributions to boost his eligibility for Maine Clean Election Act funds in connection with his failed 2015 bid for the Legislature. He ran as an unenrolled candidate to fill a vacant term, and trailed the pack in a three-way race; Republican Matthew Harrington emerged as the winner.

“Guilty as charged, sir,” said DiGregorio in a brief appearance before Justice Paul Fritzsche at York County Superior Court Monday morning.

Fritzsche sentenced DiGregorio to 10 days incarceration, to be served in an alternative sentencing program; the justice said DiGregorio is expected to serve seven days of community service. He is to report April 7, where he and others in the program are expected to make repairs and other work to get Wavus Camp for Girls ready or the summer. The camp is in Jefferson.

Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin told the judge that DiGregorio had funded “at least” 18, $5 qualifying contributions himself. Prospective candidates are required to secure signatures and $5 from 60 registered voters in order to qualify for Clean Election Funds. Staff from the Maine Committee on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices determined something was amiss as they reviewed his submissions for Clean Elections Act funding prior to the November 2015 special election and his request was denied.

If the fraud had not been caught, Robbin said, DiGregorio could have received as much as $5,000 in Clean Election Act campaign funds.

A charge of theft by deception was dismissed.

“I think this was the right result,” said Robbin following the hearing, “and he has accepted responsibility.”

“I did a wrong,” said DiGregorio. “I wasn’t intending to defraud the government or people. All I wanted to do was good, and every time I do, I end up making it worse.”

DiGregorio has no prior convictions.

DiGregorio has maintained that his mistake was in collecting donations and signatures from people who did not live in District 19. When he turned the contributions in to the ethics commission, he was informed they were not eligible, so he tracked down as many as he could to return the money, he said, but some told him to keep it. When he sought signatures from others, DiGregorio said, they told him to come back on payday, but he instead used the $5 contributions that the original donors wouldn’t accept as the new registrants’ contributions.

“No, I didn’t use my own money,” he said. “That’s a wrong and I didn’t have any, anyway.”

DiGregorio said he should have been more focused on the law.

The conviction on the six Class D misdemeanor counts automatically triggers a clause in the Sanford city charter, which states that those convicted of crimes that have the potential of a sentence of more than six month are no longer qualified to be a councilor. After the hearing, City Manager Steve Buck handed DiGregorio a letter asking him to turn in his keys, access card and Ipad.

DiGregorio is no longer qualified to serve on City Council for his current term, which expires Dec. 31 – but he is in the running Nov. 8 for a council term that commences Jan. 1. He said he intends to participate in the candidate’s forum, set for 6 p.m. tonight.

“I will be back with a bang, for the people,” he told reporters after the hearing.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282- 1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]


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