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The Associated Press - May 24, 1999

Murphy: Vote Fraud Charge Political

FARMINGTON, Pa. (AP) -- A former congressman arraigned Monday on charges of voter fraud denied the allegations and suggested his accusers were using the case for political gain.

Former U.S. Rep. Austin J. Murphy, 71, was arraigned on charges of forgery, conspiracy, tampering with public records and falsifying public records.

The case centers on the Bouras Personal Care Home, a nursing home where 39 ballots from 1997 were found to be invalid because of forgeries.

Murphy and two others were accused of writing in the name of Murphy's wife, Eileen, on the ballots of elderly people for a post on the Wharton Township election board.

Murphy said he helped some nursing home residents complete paperwork for absentee ballots, but did nothing illegal.

Murphy claimed the case was the result of the political ambitions of the prosecutor, Fayette County District Attorney Peter Hook, who last week lost a bid for the Republican nomination to be a county commissioner.

Hook did not return a telephone message left at his office.

Murphy retired from the Congress in 1994 after 18 years in office, where he was reprimanded for hiring a no-show staffer and permitting someone else to cast votes for him.

Copyright 1999 The Associated Press..

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Revised: May 24, 1999.

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