Former Cecil County Election Official Charged With Perjury, Misconduct In Office

    The former deputy director of the Cecil County Board of Elections has been charged with misconduct in office for altering a financial disclosure form, according to charging documents from the Maryland Office of the State Prosecutor.

    Lora Walters, who left her post at the Cecil County Board of Elections last year, is charged with misconduct in office, perjury, false entry in a public record, altering a public record and corrupt or fraudulent acts in the performance of official election duties, according to a criminal information filed in Cecil County Circuit Court.

    Walters allegedly failed to collect a required financial disclosure form from Cecil County Executive Danielle Hornberger (R) when she registered to run for office against then-incumbent Alan McCarthy (R) in 2019, according to charging documents. A press release from the Office of the State Prosecutor reads that “when the absence of the required financial disclosure came to light, Ms. Walters altered a subsequently provided financial disclosure form to make it appear as though it had been filed eight months prior, at the time it was required.”

    Hornberger is named in the charging documents, but is not charged with wrongdoing. She could not be immediately reached by phone on Thursday.

    According to the Office of the State Prosecutor, Walters allegedly altered a financial disclosure form that was filed on July 7, 2020 to appear as though it had been filed on Nov. 5, 2019.

    “Election officials are expected to discharge their duties with integrity and transparency,” Maryland State Prosecutor Charlton T. Howard III said in Friday’s press release. “Our office will investigate and where appropriate prosecute any allegation that an election official corruptly alters a public record and subsequently provides false testimony as to that alteration in a court of law.”

    McCarthy, who Hornberger ousted by a wide margin in the 2020 Republican primary, sued to have Hornberger taken off the ballot last year as a result of Walters’ actions. Senior Judge Thomas G. Ross later denied McCarthy’s request, arguing he should have filed his lawsuit sooner.

    “At best, Hornberger ‘put her head in the sand’ and failed to exercise the due diligence that is expected of a candidate for public office,” Ross wrote. “On the other hand, her candidacy was, in fact, certified and accepted by the [Cecil County Board of Elections] and [the State Board of Elections]; consequently, she was on the primary ballot and prevailed.”

    Walters is charged with perjury for allegedly providing false testimony about the documents as during a hearing as part of that lawsuit, according to charging documents. Walters was told the allegations raised against her were potentially criminal in nature when she testified last summer, but she still chose to take the stand as a witness.

    During the hearing, Walters denied forgery and suggested she’d been framed.

    Perjury carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, and misconduct in office carries a penalty of “anything not cruel and unusual,” according to charging documents. The rest of Walters’ charges carry a maximum penalty of 3 years in prison.

    Walters could not be immediately reached Friday and no lawyer was listed for her in state court records.

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    Bennett Leckrone
    Leckrone is a December 2019 graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. He has interned at The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Columbus Dispatch, PennLive.com, The Dayton Daily News and The Troy Daily News. Leckrone is a Report for America corps member.