Former City Councilman Michael Loporto, has been acquitted on all 22 counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, in the upstate New York ballot fraud scandal. In May, we predicted that this would be the outcome:
“LoPorto was wise in having his trial separated from his colleague (Ed McDonough). The hard evidence against LoPorto’s knowledge of the scam is limited, and even witness testimony on his side of things was inconsistent.”
When the re-trial got underway, testimony was again inconsistent. While several people had placed LoPorto at the scene of the ballot forgery, witnesses who testified could not agree on his exact placement. One witness had placed him in close proximity, about an arm’s length, while another had him a good 20 feet away.
But the real break for LoPorto came in May, when Working Families Party operative Sara Couch, requested to change her original testimony. The Troy Record reported:
A key witness in the original trial of Democrats Ed McDonough and Michael LoPorto for their suspected roles in the 2009 Working Families Party ballot fraud scandal seeks to add to her original testimony.
Couch plans to add one statement that wasn’t contained in her initial testimony as well as adding some words LoPorto had said to her after she left a meeting with former City Councilman John Brown which took place at LoPorto’s restaurant. Brown, who was later convicted of a felony charge in connection to the case, tried convincing WFP members present at that meeting to put a press release out blaming the scandal on former city DPW Commissioner Bob Mirch. LoPorto was said to have been in the back cooking and not part of the meeting.
The contrasting statements gave two very different impressions. In her previous testimony, Couch said that LoPorto had told her, ““I never gave you those ballots”, suggesting a cover-up. In her revised statements, Couch said LoPorto followed her to her car, gave her a hug and said, “Had I known, I would have never handed you those ballots.”
LoPorto had maintained his innocence throughout the scandal. His legal team has made a good point throughout, which is this – The prosecutor Trey Smith, seems to have given very favorable deals to Democrats in the scandal who stood to be most readily convicted for their part in the fraud, while actively pursuing those who played a minor or unwitting (in this case) role.
The question is, why?