TAYLOR — A borough council member in Lackawanna County is being accused of voter fraud and facing felony charges for it.
Investigators said the councilman from Taylor forged absentee ballots for the November election.
Councilman Eugene Gallagher is only about eight months into his first term on Taylor Borough Council, but the Lackawanna County District Attorney’s Office has been investigating him since just after he was elected last November.
He has been charged with forgery for allegedly filling out voters’ absentee ballots, and some of those voters didn’t even live in Taylor.
“I really wanted him to win. I put his signs in my yard. I talked to people about him, ‘You wouldn’t be disappointed with him,’” said Patti Moeller of Taylor.
But Moeller is disappointed with one of her borough council members who she’s known since he was a boy.
She stumped for Eugene Gallagher, who was seeking a Taylor Borough Council seat back in November. Now, he is facing forgery charges and a violation of Pennsylvania’s Election Code.
According to court papers, Gallagher influenced at least six people to register to vote in Taylor. Some of the new voters didn’t even live in the borough. Then, Gallagher filled out their absentee ballots himself and turned them in at the Lackawanna County Board of Elections office in Scranton.
Newswatch 16 spoke with Councilman Gallagher. He did not have anything to say about the forged absentee ballots.
Gallagher did want his constituents to know that he didn’t need the ballots anyway. He won by a big enough margin.
“I have no faith in him now as a politician. As a friend, he’s ok,” said Gallagher’s neighbor Sharon Masler.
Gallagher’s neighbors said rumors of election fraud have been circling since November and they worry the alleged scheme went beyond the six ballots Gallagher is accused of forging.
An extreme and, as he puts it, unnecessary measure to get a position his friends said he desperately wanted.
“He loves his town. I will say that, but you don’t do this if you love your town. I’m just very disappointed,” Moeller added.
Eugene Gallagher was released on bail Tuesday morning after his arraignment. He is due back in court next week.
Newswatch 16 asked Gallagher if he plans to keep his seat on Taylor Borough Council. He said that is something he still has to think about.