|By Chris Maza
Former East Longmeadow Selectman Enrico "Jack" Villamaino pled guilty to nine felonies and two misdemeanors related to District Attorney Mark Mastroianni's voter fraud case against him. He is due back in court for arraignment on Aug. 7.
Reminder Publications photo by Chris Maza
SPRINGFIELD Former East Longmeadow Selectman Enrico “Jack” Villamaino pled guilty to 11 charges related to the voter fraud case in which the prosecution alleged he attempted to steal votes in order to win the Republican primary election for state Representative for the Second Hampden District.
Villamaino pled guilty to four counts of forgery, four counts of perjury and one count of conspiracy to commit a voting violation all felonies as well as misdemeanor charges of larceny under $250 and interfering with election officials on Aug. 5 in Hampden County Superior Court, however, Judge Mary Lou Rup opted to delay sentencing until Wednesday morning.
Villamaino, who came to the courthouse with a small Boston Celtics bag containing personal items in anticipation of being transported to the Hampden County House of Corrections in Ludlow, had his bail revoked and will remain in jail until he is sentenced on Aug. 7 at 9 a.m.
When asked by Rup why he was changing his plea, Villamaino stated after a brief conference with his attorney, L. Jeffrey Meehan, “Because I am [guilty] and I hope to receive leniency and hope to be able to have a second chance.”
Villamaino’s wife, Courtney Llewellyn, appeared in court prior to Villamaino and had her case continued to Aug. 28 for a final pre-trial conference.
The two sat on opposite sides of the aisle in the courtroom prior to their cases being heard and she did not stay to hear Villamaino’s plea, leaving the courtroom immediately following her proceedings.
Villamaino, along with his alleged co-conspirator Llewellyn, was accused of changing the voter registration statuses of more than 280 registered Democrats to unenrolled with the intention of taking out absentee ballots in their names and returning those ballots with votes for Villamaino in his race against Longmeadow Selectman Marie Angelides.
Villamaino had previously lost to Angelides by approximately 280 votes the last time the two met in a primary, which was in September 2010.
Villamaino was initially charged on Oct. 16, 2012 with 12 counts, including illegal absentee voting, interfering with election officials, larceny and attempting to unlawfully vote on and further charged with an additional 16 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 on Jan. 10.
All remaining charges would be dropped in accordance with the plea deal.
District Attorney Mark Mastroianni asked Rup to sentence Villamaino to periods of 12 months and three months in the Hampden County House of Corrections, to be served concurrently, for the charges of larceny and interfering with election officials. On the felony counts, he requested probation on the condition of a guilty finding.
Mastroianni called the effects of Villamaino’s actions “far-reaching” beyond the residents whose party affiliations were changed and “purely offensive and abusive to the democratic process,” explaining it has put questions in the minds of East Longmeadow residents as to whether or not their elections would be fair and equitable.
Mastroianni also argued that Villamaino’s actions were not due to a momentary lapse of judgment, but rather part of a scheme that required extensive planning that may have been up to a year in the making.
Meehan disagreed with Mastroianni on the subject of jail time, asking for four months.
He also asked that Villamaino’s felony counts be continued without a finding and dismissed once his client had completed the requirements of his probation.
He said a felony would “attach a stigma” to Villamaino for years to come and asked Rup not to “scar him and mark him for the rest of his life with a felony.”
He went on to explain that he and Villamaino had discussed community service options as opposed to jail time, but the possibility of a felony conviction limited his options in that regard.
Meehan noted his client’s ties to the community and also the fact that he has no criminal record. He argued that Villamaino made a mistake due to his own ambitions to have a career in public office.
He added that Villamaino, who was the oldest of three boys in a third-generation Italian-American family, sought the approval of his grandfather, who Meehan said often ridiculed Villamaino after he previously failed in attempts to gain seats in the Massachusetts Senate and House of Representatives.
He also stated that a psychiatrist who spoke with Villamaino said that he did not have any psychological disorders, but he suffers from anxiety and bouts of depression and took failure very hard, which resulted in his decision to attempt to cheat the voting system.
For more on this developing story, see the Aug. 8 edition of The Reminder.
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