MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. -- Mount Pleasant Town Supervisor candidate Anthony D’Aria was charged by the Westchester County District Attorney with five counts of possessing a forged instrument after officials said he attested to the validity of the petitions while knowing they had forged signatures.
The alleged forgeries were the signatures of priests from the Legionaries of Christ, a congregation of Roman Catholic priests, located at 582 Columbus Avenue in Thornwood, according to the District Attorney.
D'Aria attested to the validity of all the signatures contained on an Opportunity to Ballot Petition dated July 18 while knowing that the petition contained five forged signatures, the District Attorney's Office said in a statement.
The District Attorney went on to say that the alleged forged signatures were all from former residents of the area that now lived in places like Maryland, Texas, Georgia and Brazil.
“In a democracy we have an expectation that the results of an election are the will of the people. When someone tampers with that system, as in this case by attesting to forged ballot signatures, a fundamental democratic process is breached," District Attorney Janet DiFiore said in a statement. "These kinds of actions are not politics. They are criminal and they will be prosecuted,”
D’Aria, who faces a maximum of seven years in prison was released on his own recognizance. His next court date is Thursday Oct. 24 in Mount Pleasant Town Court.
In a statement issued by his campaign, D'Aria denied the charges.
"The accusations of improprieties in the procurement of petition signatures are nothing but a flagrant attempt to derail his campaign for Mt. Pleasant Supervisor. It is highly unusual that such charges would be laid on the eve of the first seriously contested election in Mt. Pleasant in many years if they were not politically motivated," Andre S. Turcot wrote in an email. "Mr. D'Aria remains committed to winning the election for Town Supervisor. This incident only strengthens his resolve to win and bring about the change that Mt. Pleasant needs."