Appealed From No. 96-2181. Common Pleas Court of the County of Bucks. Judge BIESTER, JR.
Before: Honorable Bernard L. McGINLEY, Judge, Honorable Rochelle S. Friedman, Judge, Honorable Emil E. Narick, Senior Judge. Opinion BY Senior Judge Narick.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Narick
Faust appeals from the judgment of sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County (trial court) dated September 20, 1996 that sentenced Faust to one (1) year probation with the last nine (9) months to be non-reporting and to disenfranchisement for a period of four (4) years. Trial court imposed the above sentence after a jury found Faust guilty of violating Sections 1813 and 1814 of the Election Code (Code). *fn1
In early 1996, Faust was running as a Republican candidate in the general primary election for the office of "committeewoman" for the Upper 5 District of Bensalem Township in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. To have her name printed on the official ballot, Faust had to file a nomination petition containing ten (10) signatures of Republican electors in the district. On February 11, 1996, Faust appeared before a notary public. At that time, Faust signed and swore to two (2) affidavits that were a part of her nomination petition. The Affidavit of Circulator that Faust signed and swore to stated in pertinent part:
The undersigned, who, being duly sworn according to law, did depose and say that ... the signers to the foregoing petition signed the same with full knowledge of the contents thereof; ... that each signed on the date set opposite his or her name; and that to the best of deponent's knowledge and belief, the signers are qualified, registered and enrolled electors of the designated party of the aforesaid political district.
The Candidate's Affidavit that Faust also signed and swore to provided in pertinent part:
The undersigned, who, being duly sworn according to law, did depose and say that ... the name of the office for which he or she consents to be a candidate is Republican committeewoman[;] that he or she is eligible for said office; that he or she will not knowingly violate any election law, or any law regulating and limiting nomination and election expenses, and prohibiting corrupt practices in connection therewith.
On February 12, 1996, Faust officially filed her nomination petition with the Bucks County Board of Elections at the Bucks County Courthouse. Faust's petition included the two (2) affidavits and the signatures of fifteen (15) Republican electors.
On February 26, 1996, the Bensalem Township Council conducted a public meeting. During the meeting, Faust admitted to signing the name of George Worthington on line 15 of her nomination petition. While Faust was collecting signatures for her petition, George Worthington was in a Philadelphia hospital recovering from heart bypass surgery. Later, Faust admitted that the names of three (3) other electors on her nomination petition, including Gustav and Margaret Fuscellaro and Vicky-Lyn Gorman, were not legitimate. These three (3) signatures appeared on lines 14, 13 and 5, respectively, of Faust's petition.
At trial, Faust testified that she signed the Fuscellaros' names and George Worthington's name to her petition with their permission. The Fuscellaros testified at trial that they gave Faust permission to sign their names to her petition. Mrs. Worthington testified that she was aware that Faust had signed Mr. Worthington's name to her petition. Faust also testified that neither she nor Ms. Gorman signed Ms. Gorman's signature to the petition. Rather, Ms. Gorman testified that her mother signed Faust's petition on behalf of Ms. Gorman. Faust also admitted at trial that she swore to the affidavits with full knowledge of their contents. Thus, Faust filed her nomination petition and affidavits knowing that four (4) of the signatures in her petition were not legitimate signatures.
First, Faust argues that the verdict was against the weight and sufficiency of the evidence. In support of her argument, Faust contends that there was no knowing and fraudulent intent to violate the Code. On the contrary, Faust believed that she could sign the names of electors to her nomination petition if the electors gave her permission. Faust also claims that signing an ...