Matthew Toth shakes hands with Leanne Robbin, assistant attorney general, after he pleaded guilty to two counts of unsworn falsification during a hearing Thursday at York Judicial Center. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

BIDDEFORD — A former candidate for the Maine House accused of forging and falsely certifying voter signatures to qualify for public campaign funds pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of unsworn falsification.

Matthew Toth, a Republican who sought to represent part of Sanford, entered the pleas at the York Judicial Center. He also faced 13 counts of aggravated forgery, all of which were dismissed.

York County District Court Judge Lea-Anne Sutton approved a 10-day jail sentence but said it can be satisfied with participation in an alternative sentencing program that Toth is expected to start Oct. 14.

“I want to apologize to the state for doing such a thing,” Toth said during his court appearance. “I won’t do something like this again. I appreciate living in this state and am just sorry I did this.”

The Maine Clean Elections Act provides funds to candidates who collect $5 minimum contributions and, for House candidates, 60 signatures from voters in their district.

Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin told the court Toth forged four signatures of voters who did not provide him with $5 qualifying contributions and an additional seven signatures of voters who did provide Toth with contributions.


“He did not qualify for funding because the Ethics Commission detected the fraud and denied the application, and he withdrew as a candidate,” Robbin said.

She said the state decided to dismiss the felony counts because of Toth’s lack of a criminal record, his young age (he is 26) and the complicated process of qualifying for public elections funds. The non-violent nature of the crimes also contributed to the state’s decision to offer the alternative sentence, which Robbin said will involve work at a day camp for children with disabilities.

Richard Berne, Toth’s attorney, said there were also other mitigating factors in the case, including that he has accepted responsibility for what he did and that he has suffered from “lifelong serious learning disabilities.”

“The rules related to clean elections are pretty complicated … and frankly, Matthew had some difficulty comprehending those rules and regulations,” Berne said. “That doesn’t excuse what he did. He’s not offering that as an excuse … He acknowledges guilt and it really is an isolated act.”

Toth and Berne declined to comment further on the case as they left the courtroom.

Toth is not the only politician to come under fire for abuse of Maine’s public campaign funding system in recent months.

Clinton Collamore Sr., a former Democratic state representative from Waldoboro, was accused last winter of forging several signatures in an attempt to qualify for financing under the Maine Clean Elections Act. He resigned his House seat in February and returned his Clean Election Act campaign funds, along with his salary.

Collamore pleaded guilty to 11 counts of unsworn falsification and one count of violating the Maine Clean Election Act in June and was sentenced to 72 hours in jail and 100 hours of community service.

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