|By Chris Maza
Enrico "Jack" Villamaino, left, and Courtney Llewellyn stand before Superior Court Justice C. Jeffrey Kinder at their arraignment on new charges stemming from the investigation into their alleged voter fraud scheme on Jan. 10.
Reminder Publications photo by Chris Maza
SPRINGFIELD The trial for former East Longmeadow Selectman Enrico "Jack" Villamaino and former town employee Courtney Llewellyn will most likely not take place before the summer, according to Hampden County District Attorney Mark Mastroianni.
Villamaino and Llewellyn appeared in court on Jan. 10 for a pretrial conference and to answer to additional charges relating to the voter fraud scheme the couple allegedly concocted and attempted to carry out during Villamaino's run for state representative of the Second Hampden District.
Villamaino, facing 26 charges 16 additional counts of attempt to unlawfully vote absentee, four counts of forgery, four counts of perjury, one count of conspiracy to commit illegal voting and one count of conspiracy to commit an absentee voting violation in addition to the original 12 charges of illegal absentee voting, interfering with election officials, larceny and attempting to unlawfully vote, pled not guilty.
Llewellyn, charged with 46 new counts 16 counts of attempt to illegally vote absentee, 14 counts of forgery, 14 counts of perjury, one count of conspiracy to commit illegal voting and one count of conspiracy to commit an absentee voting violation on top of the same original 12 counts, also entered a plea of not guilty.
All charges were combined into a single case and as a result, the scheduled pretrial hearing was continued to Feb. 19. A discovery and compliance pretrial conference was also scheduled for Feb. 8.
"Because our next pretrial hearing is scheduled in February, I expect that if there is a trial in this case, it would be late summer or fall," Mastroianni said.
The new charges were brought forward following new evidence found during the course of the District Attorney's office's ongoing investigation into the complex voter fraud plot, including results from forensic handwriting analysis.
Mastroianni said that analysis offered proof to the allegation that the couple fraudulently filled out absentee ballot requests in the name of unsuspecting East Longmeadow residents in the hopes of stealing those ballots and casting votes in his favor during his run in the GOP primary election against Longmeadow Selectman Marie Angelides.
Mastroianni also said that the charges are a "representative sample" of more than 280 absentee ballot requests that were allegedly forged. Angelides beat Villamaino by 284 votes in the same election two years prior.
According to the indictments, the grand jury found that there was sufficient evidence asserting that Villamaino and Llewellyn, "with intent to injure or defraud, did make, alter, forge or counterfeit a certain instrument purporting to be a public record, specifically an absentee ballot."
Mastroianni added, "Because an absentee ballot is signed under the pains and penalties of perjury, when they put false signatures on those ballots, it represented perjury."
Villamaino and Llewellyn were both released on their own recognizance. Mastroianni requested no additional bail.
"Because the cases are now joined, even though the indictments came out at separate times, we have agreed that they all arise from the same set of circumstances, so they all become one," he said. "The bail that was originally set is now the bail that is imposed on the entire group of charges."
Villamaino was originally released on $10,000 bail and subject to electronic monitoring, while Llewellyn was released after her first arraignment on a $50,000 surety.
Neither Villamaino, nor Llewellyn spoke to reporters after the arraignment and left the third floor of the Hampden County Hall of Justice, where Superior Courtroom One where they were arraigned is located, separately.
Llewellyn disregarded reporters and entered the Probation Department office on the third flood, while Villamaino declined comment before stepping onto an elevator.
Attorneys Jeffrey Meehan, representing Villamaino, and Michael Jenkins, representing Llewellyn, also refused to comment.
"I think it would be inappropriate for me to talk to you," Meehan said.
With more than 100 charges combined facing the two, Mastroianni said the sheer volume of indictments illustrates his office's commitment to prosecuting the case.
"I can't discuss what the thought process is of the prosecution team, but these are very serious charges. We have taken these charges very seriously all along," he said. "The investigation and the time and effort we have put into this case has been significant. As you can see, the number of indictments that have been handed down against these two is significant."
Mastroianni would also not speculate on the kind of jail time, if any, Villamaino and Llewellyn could face if convicted.
"The charges include both felonies and misdemeanors. The charges expose these individuals to state prison or to house of correction time if a judge feels that incarceration would be important," he said. "The question really becomes in a case like this, when you have multiple indictments, whether or not sentences will be stacked on and after each other or if all sentences will run concurrently."
Mastroianni also said it was his belief that Villamaino and Llewellyn were still married in an attempt to avoid testifying against each other.
"I don't know if there has been a change in circumstances. If there has, I am unaware of it, so as far as I know they still are," he said.
Mastroianni also cautioned that the conspiracy charges are not linked to the alleged union.
"The conspiracy charge has to do with the conspiracy to affect and be involved in changing votes," he said. "The fact that they got married after raises an evidentiary issue that isn't necessarily addressed by the indictments, but it will be addressed by the court regarding the admissibility of certain statements if we get to that point."
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