District Attorney reviews fraud allegations levelled at Philadelphia GOP

    District attorney Seth Williams is reviewing allegations of forged documents in a battle for control of Philadelphia’s Republican Party.

    District attorney Seth Williams is reviewing allegations of forged documents in a battle for control of Philadelphia’s Republican Party.

    The documents in question were filed by one of the city’s most powerful Republican leaders.

    At issue are challenges filed to the candidacies of people running for some of the least prestigious political offices in the city – Republican ward committee posts.

    Republican ward leader and attorney Matthew Wolfe says he found problems when he looked into more than 40 challenges – challenges allegedly signed by neighborhood Republicans, and filed by Republican Party general counsel Michael Meehan.

    “A clear majority of these were fraudulent,” says Wolfe. “The individuals not only had no knowledge of the petition being filed, their names were forged on the verification, and in some cases the individuals didn’t exist at all.”

    After Wolfe contested the issue, most of the challenges were withdrawn or dismissed in court.

    There’s a rich history of crude forgeries and other hijinks in Philadelphia ward politics, and they’re typically resolved in civil courts.  Offenders aren’t punished and they remain free to try their tricks in the next election.

    But veteran election lawyer Gregory Harvey says the conduct here should be taken seriously.

    “Yes,” says Harvey, “some persons committed criminal actions.”

    Michael Meehan declined a recorded interview, but says he relied on the signatures provided by Republican operatives. Meehan says he withdrew the challenges when the problems arose.

    Republican city committee chairman Vito Canuso says a criminal investigation makes no sense.

    “Our system has more important things to worry about than signatures on nominating petitions, on signatures challenging nominating petitions,” says Canuso. “I think we’re beyond that point”

    But Deputy District Attorney for investigations Curtis Douglas says he’s reviewing complaints about the forgeries.

    “If, in fact, we find there’s something that merits prosecution, we will prosecute it,” says Douglas.

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