SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Wearing a full beard, handcuffed, and with legs in shackles, former East Longmeadow Selectman Enrico "Jack" Villamaino was in court Wednesday morning to answer to voter fraud charges.
Around 11:00 A.M., Villamaino's lawyer pleaded not guilty on his behalf. Judge Jeffrey Kinder set bail at $10,000 cash, far less than the $100,000 the Commonwealth was requesting. If bail is posted, Villamaino will have electronic monitoring at his home, except for doctor's visits or employment. The judge also had Villamaino surrender his passport as a condition of bail.
Hampden County District Attorney Mark Mastroianni is prosecuting the case against Villamaino, who was indicted by a grand jury last week. The ex-selectman is charged with nine counts of absentee voter fraud. Each count calls for not more 5 years in jail and no more than a 10,000 fine.
Villamaino also faces other charges, including one count of an illegal attempt to vote, one count of interference with election officials, and one count of larceny under $250.
On June 15, Mastroianni said it can be documented that there were more than 200 people who had their party enrollment changed from Democrat to unenrolled. These changes were made in the after-hours on one computer where only two people were trained, including Villamaino's co-defendant Courtney Llewellyn. Less than 20 of the around 280 people who had their affiliation changed told investigators that they actually wanted their affiliation changed.
On July 20, 280 applications for absentee ballots were dropped off at the East Longmeadow Town Clerk's office, and Mastroianni said they matched up with the names that had their party affiliation changed. Llewellyn took in those 280 applications. According to Mastroianni, Villamaino said that he told employees he was personally mailing-out those absentee applications. Villamaino and Llewellyn walked outside of town hall with the bins of applications. Mastroianni says the absentee ballots were kept by Villamaino so that he could eventually mail out those ballots as votes.
In court, Mastroianni said that Villamaino's scheme was to change the party affiliation of more than 200 registered voters in East Longmeadow, and then cast absentee ballots on their behalf, without their knowledge. Mastrioianni said that Villamaino lost the Republican nomination for state representative in the 2nd Hampden District by less than 250 votes back in 2010. Villamaino was again running for state representative when the party affiliations were changed (in September, he lost handily to Longmeadow Select Board Member Marie Angelides, who also defeated Villamaino in the 2010 primary).
Mastroianni said the Villamaino and Llewellyn were married during the investigation, but that the marriage was an attempt to thwart the investigation by not allowing Llewellyn to testify against him. Mastroianni said Villamaino was "flaunting his arrogance," and had been looking up ways to get a divorce and/or an annulment on his computer, hours after getting married.
During the investigation, Villamaino superimposed his face for his Facebook profile picture on the movie poster of "Catch Me if You Can." Mastroianni said Villamaino looked at different ways to avoid prosecution, from going to Switzerland to joining political parties for protection. Mastroianni said that Villamaino had his passport on him when he was arrested on Tuesday.
Villamaino's lawyer argues that Villamaino is a movie buff, and always keeps his passport on him.
During the arraignment, new court dates for the former selectman were also set. There will be a hearing for discovery compliance on November 20, a pre-trial conference on December 3, and a pre-trial hearing on January 10.