updated 12/1/2004 6:55:33 PM ET 2004-12-01T23:55:33

President Bush’s former New England campaign chairman was indicted Thursday on charges he took part in the jamming of the Democrats’ get-out-the-vote phone lines on Election Day 2002.

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James Tobin, 44, stepped down Oct. 15 after the Democrats accused him of involvement. At the time, he called the allegations “without merit.”

In 2002, six phone lines run by the Democrats and the Manchester firefighters union were tied up for 1½ hours by 800 computer-generated hang-up calls.

Federal prosecutors said Tobin and other Republicans hired a company to make the calls to disrupt the organizations’ get-out-the-vote efforts.

Tobin was charged with conspiracy to commit telephone harassment and aiding and abetting of telephone harassment. He could get up to five years in prison.

Calls to Tobin’s lawyer and representatives of both parties were not immediately returned.

At the time of the jamming, Tobin was Northeast political director for the Republican Senatorial Committee, the party operation working to elect Republicans to the Senate.

Among the races affected by the phone-jamming was the Senate contest between Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen and Republican Rep. John E. Sununu. Sununu ended up winning by about 20,000 votes.

Over the summer, Chuck McGee, former executive director of the state GOP, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and admitted paying $15,600 to a Virginia telemarketing company that hired another business to make the calls. A Republican consultant with the telemarketing company also pleaded guilty.

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