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Hopedale - Local Town Pages

Hopedale Commissioner Accused of Inappropriate Action and Voter Fraud

Dec 29, 2020 04:42PM ● By Theresa Knapp

After allegations were brought to the attention of the Board of Selectmen, town counsel investigated the possibility that former Water and Sewer Commissioner Christine Burke had moved out of town but continued to serve on a town board. Allegations were also made that she registered to vote in another town. 

In a written letter to the town, which he read aloud at the selectmen’s meeting on Dec. 21, 2020, Town Counsel Brian W. Riley of KP LAW in Boston said, “It appears as a matter of law that Ms. Burke vacated her seat on the Commission as of early May 2020 and she should not have participated in subsequent meetings as a commission member.” 

Riley said it was his opinion there were no illegal votes or town business conducted during the time in question as any decision made was unanimous and the decisions would not be changed with or without her vote. 

“I just didn’t see anything that would cause any kind of legal ramifications,” said Riley. 

Ed Burt, Chairman of the Water and Sewer Commission, noted many of Burke’s accomplishments, thanked her for her many years of service, and said “the confusion in the details there are pretty unnecessary.” 

“I think what you see in [town counsel]’s notes is there was ‘no harm, no foul’ but I believe it really overcomplicates the matter because, when Christine sold her house, she then rented in Hopedale so she was still resident right up to the point in time that she served on the Water and Sewer Commission,” said Burt. “At all times, she put the best interest of Hopedale and the community first and foremost in everything she did. Every minute of every second that she served was for the betterment of Hopedale”. 

Newly-appointed selectman Glenda Hazard, whose first meeting was that evening, read into the record a response from Burke to “the Board and Selectman Keyes” dated Dec. 20, 2020. 

In her response, Burke said, “I did not remove or abandon my residency in Hopedale. I sold my home on April 29, 2020. I had lived on Route 16 with a “For Sale” sign on my front lawn, there was nothing hidden or clandestine about the sale of my home...From and after the sale of my home, I continued to reside in Hopedale on Richard Road...I continue to receive mail in Hopedale. Again, I have not removed from the Town of Hopedale as the statute contemplates. I applied for an absentee ballot in October of 2020 so that I could participate in the Presidential election in November. It was at that time that I resigned from my position on the Hopedale Water and Sewer Commission. Mr. [Jon] Delli Priscoli alleges in his Nov. 23, 2020 email to you and others that I filed a Change of Residence form on May 25, 2020 and voluntarily abandoned my residency.” She asked that the form be provided to her as she does not recall filling it out.  

She continued, “I have never committed voter fraud as is alleged on Oct. 29, 2020 email to the Town Coordinator. Furthermore there have never been any “biased shenanigans” as you allege in your email to Jon Delli Priscoli on Nov. 24, 2020...In the future, the courtesy of a telephone call or an email might have saved you and the town much time and money spent pursuing this matter on behalf of the GURR [Grafton and Upton Railroad of which Delli Priscoli is the CEO].”

Town Counsel Riley acknowledged Burke’s response. 

“I appreciate hearing that...I think she makes an excellent point. If she was living here throughout that period, there’s a good argument that she did not ‘remove from the town’ as that term is used in the statute so I think that’s good to get that on the record as well,” said Riley.