Former City Resident Charged with Voter Registration Fraud
For Immediate Release: October 28, 2016
On October 28, 2016, former Alexandria resident Vafalay Massaquoi, 30, was arraigned in Alexandria General District Court on four felony charges related to allegations of voter registration fraud.
Specifically, Masaquoi was charged with two felony counts of Forging a Public Record and two felony counts of Voter Registration Fraud. Each charge carries a potential maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
The charges relate to allegations that Massaquoi, while employed by a local advocacy group seeking to register new voters, fabricated applications for voter registration. Specifically, it is alleged that he forged voter registration forms by inventing applicants. These false applications were then filed with the Alexandria Office of the General Registrar, who brought the matter to the attention of the Commonwealth's Attorney as required by law.
Commonwealth's Attorney Bryan L. Porter made the following statement: "Given the nature of these charges and the fact that an election is imminent, this case constitutes a matter of public import that justifies a limited release of information. I emphasize, however, that the accused is presumed to be innocent, that my office must prove any charge through the adduction of admissible evidence at trial and that the accused's guilt should not be inferred simply because he has been charged with a criminal offense."
"Given the recent public attention to claims of election fraud, I think it is important to note that there is no allegation that any illegal vote was actually cast in this case. Furthermore, since the fraudulent applications involved fictitious people, had the fraud not been uncovered the risk of actual fraudulent votes being cast was low. However, any such offense is extremely serious and can degrade the confidence we as citizens justly have in our system of elections."
"The offenses alleged occurred in the spring of 2016. The allegations were brought to my attention in June of 2016, and were subsequently investigated by my office and the Alexandria Police Department. I authorized the police to seek warrants in July; however, by that time the accused had moved out of Alexandria and his whereabouts were unknown. In early October, after a lengthy search, the accused was arrested near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was extradited to Alexandria on October 27 and arraigned this morning."
Rule 3.6 of the Virginia State Bar's Rules of Professional Conduct for Attorneys states, in pertinent part: "A lawyer participating in or associated with the… prosecution … of a criminal matter that may be tried to a jury shall not make or participate in making an extrajudicial statement… that the lawyer knows, or should know, will have a substantial likelihood of interfering with the fairness of a trial by jury." Therefore, the Commonwealth is prohibited from discussing the evidence, its trial strategy or its work product prior to trial of the matter.
The defendant is being held in the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center pending sentencing. His preliminary hearing was set for December 13, 2016, in the Alexandria General District Court.