Cohoes mayor accused of using campaign funds for personal benefit pleads guilty

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COHOES, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Cohoes Mayor Shawn Morse (D), pleaded guilty to federal charges on Tuesday.

Shawn Morse pleaded guilty to wire fraud for working with Ralph Signoracci to wire $500 into his personal account.

Signoracci, while a member of the City of Cohoes Common Council and then an Albany County Legislator, served as treasurer of a political committee called “Friends of Shawn Morse,” from approximately November 2013 through January 2019.  He also served as treasurer of the political action committee “The Chairman’s PAC.” 

He faces four to 10 months in prison when he is sentenced on December 10.

Morse does not legally have to resign from public office until he is sentenced.

Signoracci pleaded guilty earlier this year to conspiring to steal political campaign contributions

In February, Morse was arrested by the FBI and was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, five counts of wire fraud, and one count of making a false statement to the FBI.

According to the Department of Justice, from approximately 2013 through 2018, Morse and his campaign treasurer Ralph Signoracci solicited and received contributions to his campaign committee, Friends of Shawn Morse, and his political action committee, The Chairman’s Pac, from area businesses and businesspeople. 

Morse is accused of, at times, asking Signoracci to withdraw funds from the committees’ bank accounts so that he could use them to pay for personal expenses. 

According to the indictment, Morse and Signoracci concealed the nature of expenditures by falsely reporting the purpose of the expenditures or by not reporting or disclosing them on campaign disclosure reports, as required of local candidates running for office.

Morse is also accused of providing false information to the FBI when questioned in September 2018.

Morse has been the mayor since 2015. Last month, he conceded to Former New York State Trooper Bill Keeler in the primary for mayor.

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