SANFORD, Maine — The Maine Attorney General’s Office has filed a seven-count criminal complaint against a Sanford city councilor and former candidate for Maine House District 19 for alleged violations of the Maine Clean Elections Act in connection with his House race.
The complaint, which was filed at Springvale District Court on Feb. 8, alleges that Victor E. DiGregorio attempted to steal money from the state by lying to the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices when he signed forms stating he had collected 60 required $5 contributions in his bid for Maine Clean Elections Act funds.
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.
The criminal complaint cites six counts of making an unsworn falsification and one count of attempted theft by deception. All are Class D misdemeanors that carry a maximum prison term of up to one year upon conviction.
DiGregorio was issued a court summons on Feb. 10, and is scheduled to appear at Springvale District Court on April 26.
“It’s a very uncomfortable situation,” said DiGregorio this morning. “However, the intention was not there. It was an honest mistake.”
He said one of his contributors said she didn’t have the cash on hand, and to come back for it another day. In other cases, he said he unknowingly got signatures from people who were not in the district. The ethics commission staff told him to return that money, he said, but some told him to keep it, so he used it for other contributions. And in a couple of cases, he said, he forgot to get the money from the signatories.
“I didn’t do anything intentionally wrong,” said DiGregorio, who said he has retained legal counsel.
If convicted, DiGregorio could also lose his city councilor seat, which expires Dec. 31. On Wednesday, City Manager Steve Buck said the city charter contains a provision that states if a councilor is convicted of a crime that carries a sentence of six months or more, that person is no longer qualified to be a councilor.
DiGregorio was an unenrolled candidate in a special election for House District 19 in the Maine House of Representatives, which became vacant upon the death of Rep. Bill Noon in 2015. Republican Matthew Harrington won the race, narrowly defeating Noon’s widow, Jean, a Democrat. DiGregorio came in a distant third, earning 110 votes, while Harrington earned 767 votes and Noon, 754.
The AG’s office alleges that DiGregorio attempted to deceive the staff of the ethics commission six times when he affirmed in writing that he had collected qualifying contributions of $5 from each contributor, and that the contribution came from the personal funds of each contributor listed.
The complaint alleges that DiGregorio committed the crime of attempted theft by deception, and that he attempted to collect Clean Elections funding as a result of the alleged deception.
According to a report issued by the staff of the ethics commission in October 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.
The ethics commission staff concluded that DiGregorio submitted forms containing false statements to qualify for public funding.