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

Posted by jefhenningeresq in News.
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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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