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Senatorial Election Fraud March 29, 2012

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Claims Of Fraud In Votes Of Special Election

Brooklyn, NY- Claims of election fraud in vote counting in a senatorial election ran rampant on Wednesday afternoon at the Board of Election Headquarters in Brooklyn, NY.

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Feds probe Christine O’Donnell’s campaign spending December 29, 2010

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 Federal authorities have opened a criminal investigation of Delaware Republican Christine O’Donnell to determine if the former Senate candidate broke the law by using campaign money to pay personal expenses according to a source.   The source spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to protect the identity of a client who has been questioned as part of the probe (i.e. defense lawyer). The case, which has been assigned to two federal prosecutors and two FBI agents in Delaware, has not been brought before a grand jury.  Matt Moran, O’Donnell’s former campaign manager, did not immediately respond Wednesday to questions from The AP. He said earlier this month that the campaign had not been contacted about any investigation.

The U.S. Attorney’s office has confirmed that it is reviewing a complaint about O’Donnell’s campaign spending filed by a watchdog group, but officials in the office and the FBI declined to say whether a criminal investigation was under way.  O’Donnell, who set a state record by raising more than $7.3 million in a tea party-fueled campaign this year, has long been dogged by questions about her finances.  At least two former campaign workers have alleged that she routinely used political contributions to pay her personal expenses in recent years as she ran for the Senate three consecutive times, starting in 2006. The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission making similar allegations and asked Delaware’s federal prosecutor to investigate.

O’Donnell’s campaign has denied wrongdoing, but acknowledged she had paid part of her rent at times with campaign money, arguing that her house doubled as a campaign headquarters.  However, federal law prohibits candidates from spending campaign money for personal benefit. FEC rules say this prohibition applies to the use of campaign money for a candidate’s mortgage or rent “even if part of the residence is being used by the campaign,” although O’Donnell’s campaign maintained that it was told otherwise by someone at the agency.

Looks like this is going to get serious.  Most lawyers like to sit and wait which I think is a big mistake.  I like to launch a full investigation.  She needs to get a defense lawyer, gather documents and records, start interviewing witnesses and get on the phone with one of these AUSA’s.  Otherwise, she could wind up with big problems.  The best defense is an active defense.  Waiting around to see what happens never helped anyone.

Story is here.

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Five more charged in connection with 2007 election fraud in Essex County December 1, 2009

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Things are looking worse for New Jersey State Senator Teresa Ruiz as her husband and four others were arrested for the 2007 election fraud case that is on going.  You have to wonder what the plea discussions will be with Ruiz’s husband.  If he falls on the sword, they could forego prosecution of her.  I don’t know her and I have no indication that she did anything wrong but there reaches a point where enough people around you have gone down, it starts to look bad for you. 

In addition, with a number of people involved, which one(s) will flip on Ruiz just to save themselves even if they have to make something up?  If Ruiz is smart, she has a good attorney that has been working hard to direct a large number of interviews to lock people into a statement before the State can get a hold of them or arrest them. 

TRENTON – Attorney General Anne Milgram announced that five more people, including a freeholder who is the husband of State Senator Teresa Ruiz, were indicted today for election fraud in connection with absentee ballots they collected and submitted as workers for Ruiz’s 2007 campaign for the New Jersey Senate in the 29th District. Five other campaign workers for Ruiz were charged in four prior indictments.

According to Criminal Justice Director Deborah L. Gramiccioni, a state grand jury returned two indictments today. One indictment charged Ruiz’ husband, Samuel Gonzalez, 39, and Joaquin Caceres, 50, both of Newark. Gonzalez is an Essex County freeholder and an aide to Newark City Councilman Anibal Ramos. Caceres is a senior program development specialist on the Newark mayor’s staff.

The second indictment charged Jonathon Kowalski, 32, of Newark, John Fernandez, 58, of Belleville, and Edwin Cruz, 48, of Newark. Kowalski works in fund-raising at the North Ward Center, and Cruz and Fernandez both work for the Essex County Department of Economic Development.

Each of the five defendants is charged with conspiracy (2nd degree), election fraud (2nd degree), absentee ballot fraud (3rd degree), tampering with public records or information (3rd degree), and forgery (4th degree).

According to Director Gramiccioni, Gonzalez, Caceres, Kowalski, Fernandez and Cruz are charged with tampering with documentation for messenger ballots, which are absentee ballots intended for use by homebound voters. They are charged with fraudulently submitting such ballots as votes in the Nov. 6, 2007 general election. The charges stem from an ongoing investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Corruption Unit.

“We charge that these campaign workers fraudulently submitted absentee ballots on behalf of residents who never received the ballots or had an opportunity to cast their votes,” said Attorney General Milgram. “Election fraud is a serious crime, particularly when voters are disenfranchised.”

At the time of the election, messenger ballots were for use only by those who were homebound due to illness, infirmity or disability. Such persons could complete an application designating a messenger or bearer who is a family member or a registered voter in the county. The bearer was thereby authorized to obtain an absentee ballot from the county board of elections, take it to the voter, and return a completed ballot to the county board. New rules regarding such ballots have since been adopted.

Gonzalez, Caceres, Kowalski, Fernandez and Cruz allegedly solicited applications for messenger ballots from individuals not qualified to receive them and fraudulently designated themselves as the authorized messengers or bearers. They allegedly obtained messenger ballots from the county clerk and submitted them to the board of elections as votes on behalf of voters who, in fact, never received or voted the ballots.

“We are continuing our investigation into allegations of fraud in the November 2007 general election in the 29th District,” said Director Gramiccioni. “The Division of Criminal Justice and Essex County Prosecutor’s Office are pursuing all leads concerning tampering with absentee ballots.”

Five other campaign workers for Ruiz were charged in four prior state grand jury indictments obtained by the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau.

Four campaign workers were charged with tampering with documentation for messenger ballots and fraudulently submitting such ballots as votes in the Nov. 6, 2007 general election.

One of them, Rocio Rivera, 50, of Lebanon Township, was indicted on Aug. 18. The other three were charged in two separate indictments on Aug. 4. One indictment charged Gianine Narvaez, 36, of Belleville, a data processing technician for the Essex County Commissioner of Registration and Superintendent of Elections, with official misconduct and other charges. The second indictment charged Angel Colon, 47, of Newark, an employee of the City of Newark Office of Affirmative Action, and Colon’s fiancée, Sorinette Rosario, 31, of Belleville, an employee of the Newark Welfare Department.

In addition, Ruiz campaign worker Antonio Santana, 58, of Newark, was indicted on March 23 on charges he fraudulently changed votes on absentee ballots during the election. That indictment alleges that Santana changed the votes on three absentee ballots that he collected from members of one family in October 2007.

14 indicted in Atlantic City voter fraud case September 3, 2009

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Back in June, I blogged about the arrests of David Callaway and Luquay Zahir.  In that post I said “Another issue I would want to know as an attorney for either man is if anyone else was involved.  If so, that information could go a long way.”  Guess what?  I was right to wonder who else was involved.  What seemed like a voter fraud case involving just a couple of guys turns out to be a massive case involving over a dozen people.  Hopefully, some of these people had good attorneys that made good use out of the last few months but for some reason, I doubt much was done.

TRENTON – Attorney General Anne Milgram announced that Atlantic City Councilman Marty Small and 13 individuals who worked on his unsuccessful 2009 mayoral campaign were indicted on charges they conspired to commit election fraud during the June Democratic primary through a variety of schemes involving messenger absentee ballots.

The Division of Criminal Justice obtained a 10-count state grand jury indictment charging Councilman Small and 13 campaign workers and operatives. Each defendant is charged with conspiracy (2nd degree), four counts of election fraud (2nd degree), absentee ballot fraud (3rd degree), tampering with public records (3rd degree), falsifying records (4th degree) and forgery (4th degree). Four defendants are also charged with hindering apprehension or prosecution (3rd degree).

The indictment alleges that Small and the other defendants conspired to commit election fraud through the following schemes:

  • They allegedly solicited applications for messenger absentee ballots from individuals not qualified to receive them and had the voters not fill in the name of the messenger, so they could fraudulently designate themselves as the authorized messengers or bearers.
  • They allegedly obtained messenger ballots from the county clerk and submitted them to the board of elections as votes on behalf of voters who, in fact, never received or voted the ballots or, in some cases, were given only the security envelope for the ballot and were told to sign it. Those voters were not given the opportunity to vote in most instances.
  • They allegedly picked up sealed absentee ballots from voters, unsealed them and, if they were votes for mayoral candidates other than Small, destroyed them, thereby disenfranchising those voters. If they were votes for Small, they allegedly resealed them and submitted them as votes.
  • They allegedly illegally instructed voters to fill in messenger ballots as votes for Small.
  • They allegedly submitted voter registration applications and messenger ballot applications on behalf of individuals who were not residents of Atlantic City, falsely representing they were.
  • They allegedly forged the signatures of voters on messenger ballots.
  • They allegedly fraudulently delivered messenger ballot applications and messenger ballots to voters simultaneously and instructed the voters to fill out both during the same visit.

Small and the indicted members of his campaign staff allegedly sought to maximize the number of absentee ballots messengered by the campaign by enlisting operatives and campaign workers to engage in fraud and by paying campaign workers based on how many messenger ballots they collected. The workers allegedly were told to direct voters to vote for the Small ticket, or simply have the voters sign the ballots so the workers could fill them out as votes for the Small ticket.

The campaign allegedly held an “autograph party” at which messengers selected by Small or by other defendants would fill in their own names as designated messengers on absentee ballot applications where that information had been left blank by the voters.

The indictment charges the following 14 defendants: 

  1. Marty Small, 35, of Atlantic City;
  2. Luquay Zahir, a.k.a. Luqua McNair, 34, of Atlantic City;
  3. David Callaway, 46, of Pleasantville;
  4. Floyd Tally, a.k.a. Floyd Harrell, 39, of Atlantic City;
  5. Mark Crumble, a.k.a. Johnny Crumbles, 48, of Atlantic City;
  6. Tracy PiJuan, 37, of Atlantic City;
  7. Michele Griffin, 30, of Atlantic City;
  8. Toni Dixon, 52, of Atlantic City;
  9. Demaris Jones, 27, of Atlantic City;
  10. Ramona Stephens, 48, of Atlantic City;
  11. Ernest Storr, 43, of Linwood;
  12. Thomas Quirk, 57, of Ventnor;
  13. Dameka Cross, 34, of Smithville; and
  14. Ronald Harris, 23, of Atlantic City.

Callaway, Zahir, Tally, Griffin and Dixon were previously charged by complaint in connection with the alleged illegal campaign activities.  Small, Pijuan, Storr and Quirk are the four defendants named in the count of the indictment charging third-degree hindering apprehension or prosecution. They allegedly provided false information to investigators.

There is a good chance that this case (like others going on right now) could ensnare others over time as there is still much to learn about exactly what went on, who was involved, etc.

And yet another New Jersey politician with legal problems August 27, 2009

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While you can say this is get ridiculous with all of these stories, I think this case itself is ridiculous.  I really don’t understand the waiver of indictment without a specific deal here unless he applied to PTI and he knows he will get it.  That’s the only thing that makes sense and is my guess for what is going on here.

I would take this case to trial in a second.  There is clearly no criminal intent here, even in the press release.  However, a case like this is won or lost during jury selection.  With all of the stories about New Jersey politicians, you have to make sure that the jurors you choose have no bias; not even a hint of it.  Good luck finding that here though and you better hope that you get a judge  that allows you conduct your own voir dire.

TRENTON – Attorney General Anne Milgram announced that Roselle Borough Council President Jamel Holley was charged today by accusation with illegally filling out a portion of the absentee ballots of voters in the 2006 Democratic primary for Borough Council.

According to Criminal Justice Director Deborah L. Gramiccioni, Holley, 29, of Roselle, was charged by accusation with violating the state’s absentee voting law, a third-degree crime. Holley waived his right to be indicted by a grand jury and agreed to be charged by accusation. The accusation was entered before Superior Court Judge Robert Billmeier in Mercer County.

The accusation charges that Holley tampered with absentee ballots by completing portions of the absentee ballots of at least 20 voters, contrary to the absentee voting law, which seeks to ensure the secrecy of balloting and prevent any improper influencing of voters. The charge is the result of an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau.

Holley campaigned for candidate Rosemarie Bullock. His support included registering voters and encouraging them to vote by absentee ballot. The investigation revealed that Holley contacted prospective voters to see if they had received their absentee ballots. If they had, Holley went to their homes and allegedly illegally assisted them in completing the ballots.

 Holley allegedly filled out the inner envelopes of a number of ballots, which is prohibited by law. A number of these ballots were later thrown out by the Appellate Division of New Jersey Superior Court.

Fifth Teresa Ruiz Campaign Worker Charged with Falsifying Absentee Ballots in 2007 race August 18, 2009

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This case is really starting to heat up.  After almost six months of having  just one defendant, four others have been added in just the past few weeks.  I really hope Ruiz has a good attorney that is taking proactive measures right now to interview witness to lock them into a story, review documents and prepare for the worst case scenario. 

Right now, there is no evidence that Ruiz did anything or had any connection  with any of these people.  However, it is clear that these five people were working together and that someone orchestrated all of this. (of course, this assumes guilt only for the purposes of writing this post)  The person that did that had to be in to reward these people with something as I am sure they were not risking prison time just to achieve good government. 

Anyone associated with this campaign needs an attorney because we are at five people when the last four have just started.  If and when some of these people plea out, this case is really going to move.

TRENTON – Attorney General Anne Milgram announced that another person was indicted today for election fraud in connection with absentee ballots she collected and submitted as a worker for the 2007 campaign of Teresa Ruiz for the New Jersey Senate in the 29th District. Four other campaign workers for Ruiz were charged in three prior indictments.

According to Criminal Justice Director Deborah L. Gramiccioni, Rocio Rivera, 49, of Lebanon Township, an employee of the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, was charged in a state grand jury indictment with election fraud (2nd degree), absentee ballot fraud (3rd degree), tampering with public records or information (3rd degree), and forgery (4th degree).

The indictment stems from an ongoing investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.

Rivera is charged with tampering with documentation for messenger ballots, which are absentee ballots intended for use by homebound voters. She is charged with fraudulently submitting such ballots as votes in the Nov. 6, 2007 general election.

“We are continuing our investigation into allegations of fraud in the November 2007 general election in the 29th District,” said Attorney General Milgram. “We will prosecute anyone found to have tampered with the election and disenfranchised voters.”

“This alleged voter fraud was brought to our office’s attention by the Essex County Superintendent of Elections,” said Essex County Prosecutor Paula Dow. “Voting is a fundamental privilege that all American citizens have a right to exercise without any form of meddling. The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office will not tolerate any attempt to manipulate elections of any kind.”

Messenger ballots are for use only by those who are homebound due to illness, infirmity or disability. Such persons can complete an application designating a messenger or bearer who is a family member or a registered voter in the county. The bearer is thereby authorized to obtain an absentee ballot from the county board of elections, take it to the voter, and return a completed ballot to the county board.

Rivera allegedly solicited applications for messenger ballots from individuals not qualified to receive them and fraudulently designated herself as the authorized messenger or bearer. She allegedly obtained messenger ballots from the county board of elections, and submitted them to the board of elections as votes on behalf of voters who, in fact, never received or voted the ballots.

The investigation was led by Deputy Attorney General Vincent J. Militello, Sgt. James Scott and Sgt. Lisa Shea of the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. It was conducted for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office by Assistant Prosecutor Brandon Minde, Detective David Sanabria and Detective Elizabeth Bazan. Deputy Attorney General Militello and Assistant Prosecutor Minde presented the case to the state grand jury. Attorney General Milgram also thanked Deputy Attorney General Perry Primavera, Analyst Kathleen Ratliff, all of the detectives in the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau North, and the agents and detectives of the New Jersey Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory for their work on the case.

Essex County Superintendent of Elections Carmine Casciano and his staff cooperated fully in the investigation.

Second-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $150,000 fine, while third-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Fourth-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Linda R. Feinberg in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Essex County, where the defendant will be ordered to appear at a later date to answer the charges. The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The indictment is linked to this press release at www.njpublicsafety.com.

On Aug. 4, a state grand jury returned two indictments charging three other campaign workers for Ruiz with tampering with documentation for messenger ballots and fraudulently submitting such ballots as votes in the Nov. 6, 2007 general election.

One charged Gianine Narvaez, 36, of Belleville, a data processing technician for the Essex County Commissioner of Registration and Superintendent of Elections, with official misconduct, election fraud, absentee ballot fraud, tampering with public records or information, and forgery.

The second indictment returned on Aug. 4 charged Angel Colon, 46, of Newark, an employee of the City of Newark Office of Affirmative Action, and Colon’s fiancée, Sorinette Rosario, 31, of Belleville, an employee of the Newark Welfare Department, with election fraud, conspiracy to commit election fraud, absentee ballot fraud, conspiracy to commit absentee ballot fraud, tampering with public records or information, and forgery.

On March 23, another Ruiz campaign worker, Antonio Santana, 58, of Newark, was indicted on charges he fraudulently changed votes on absentee ballots during the election. That indictment alleges that Santana changed the votes on three absentee ballots that he collected from members of one family in October 2007.

The charges against Narvaez, Colon, Rosario and Santana are pending.

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