ELKTON, Md. (WJZ) — A Cecil County elections official on Thursday pleaded guilty to misconduct in office after failing to get a financial disclosure form from County Executive Danielle Hornberger in time and later altering the paperwork Hornberger submitted, Maryland State Prosecutor Charlton Howard announced on Friday.

Lora Walters, who served as deputy director of the Cecil County Board of Elections from 2006 to 2020, was sentenced to three years of supervised probation before judgment as part of a plea deal, Howard’s office said.

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According to a statement of facts from the plea, Hornberger came to the election office in November 2019 to file her candidacy, at which time she should have turned in a financial disclosure form. Although no such form was filed, Walters certified it was and Hornberger’s candidacy was approved by the Maryland State Board of Elections.

In July 2020, questions arose about Hornberger’s financial disclosure and hard copies were not on file with the elections board, the Cecil County Department of Human Resources or the County Ethics Commission.

After being questioned by her boss, Director Ruie Marie Lavoie, Walters told Hornberger her form could not be found and sent her the paperwork to fill out. Once she received a copy, Walters backdated the form to make it appear as though it had been filled out in November 2019, prosecutors said.

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The form also had the incorrect information, as it should have accounted for financials from 2018 but instead listed records for Jan. 1, 2019 to Dec. 31, 2019.

Hornberger later testified that she filled out the form after being notified in July 2020 that it could not be located and did not backdate it herself.

A Republican, Hornberger easily won the primary election against three other candidates, including incumbent Alan McCarthy. She then cruised to victory over Democrat Jeff Kase in the 2020 general election.

Walters was charged in June with misconduct in office, perjury, false entry in a public record, altering a public record and committing corrupt acts as an election official.

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“Transparency and fairness are essential elements to the integrity of our elections,” Howard said in a statement announcing the plea deal. “Our office will continue to seek to hold accountable public officials who undermine the transparency and fairness of the electoral process by abusing their position of trust.”

Brandon Weigel