SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Jack Villamaino, a one-time East Longmeadow selectman and candidate for State Representative, pled not guilty to charges surrounding a voter fraud case today.
Villamaino was arrested Tuesday at his office at the MBTA in Boston. He is facing charges related to the absentee voter fraud scandal that has rocked the town of East Longmeadow.
Sporting a beard and wearing handcuffs, Villamaino remained seated behind his lawyer, Atty. Jeffrey Meehan, as the charges against him were revealed and a not guilty plea was entered.
Hampden County District Attorney Mark Mastroianni said in court that Villamaino is facing nine counts of absentee voter fraud, one count of illegal attempt to vote, one count of interfering with election officials, and one count of larceny.
Mastroianni told the court that the elaborate scheme began June 15th, when Villamaino’s then girlfriend and now wife, Courtney Llewellyn, changed the party affiliations of about 280 East Longmeadow voters from Democrat to unenrolled. A month later 280 absentee ballot applications were submitted to the town clerk, with some striking similarities
“Of those 280 absentee ballots, there is just about a name for name match for all the people who had been unenrolled in the democratic party,” Mastroianni said.
Villamaino was in the middle of a campaign for state representative, challenging Marie Angelides in the September Republican Primary. Angelides beat Villamaino in the same primary two years ago by 284 votes. Mastroianni says that most of the 280 voters whose parties were changed and supposedly filed absentee ballot requests this year never actually did-Villamaino and Llewellyn did it for them. As a town official, Villamaino demanded the applications be processed and returned quickly.
He allegedly told the clerk’s office he’d help out by putting absentee ballot applications in a mailbox outside the Town Hall on his way out, but investigators allege he never did.
“The Commonwealth alleges that the scheme was the reason that he insisted on being the person to purportedly mail them was so that he could keep and hang on to those absentee ballots and then fill them out fraudulently,” Mastroianni said.
Officials caught on to the fraud, but the fraud continued. Mastroianni says Villamaino married Llewellyn so she wouldn’t be able to testify against him and through Facebook taunted investigators over the summer with images from movies like “Catch Me If You Can.” Villamaino pled not guilty Wednesday, but Judge Jeffrey Kinder says if proven, the allegations are serious.
“This strikes at the very heat of our democracy,” Kinder said.
“This goes well beyond nine indictments or nine ballots. This goes well beyond 284 changed ballots. This affected all the people in East Longmeadow and all in our community in general who rely upon the sanctity of voting.”
The judge ordered Villamaino held on $10,000 cash bail. If he is able to post bail, he will be required to wear a monitoring bracelet.
On just the charges of absentee voter fraud, if convicted, the statute calls for no more than five years in jail and no more than a $10,000 fine per count against him.
Llewellyn, meanwhile, was arraigned Tuesday on similar charges. She was released on her personal recognizance with some conditions and has been suspended by the Town of East Longmeadow without pay. The MBTA is still investigating any disciplinary action against Villamaino.