NEW: Multiple Democrats Arrested In Illegal Absentee Ballot Scheme

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Four campaign workers involved in the 2019 Bridgeport Democratic mayoral primary have been arrested and charged with several counts of illegal absentee ballot handling, as announced by Chief State’s Attorney Patrick Griffin in Rocky Hill, Connecticut. The arrests were made following an investigation by the Statewide Prosecution Bureau of the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office.

The individuals charged are Alfredo Castillo, 52, Wanda Geter-Pataky, 67, Nilsa Heredia, 61, and Josephine Edmonds, 62, all residents of Bridgeport. The charges include Unlawful Possession of Absentee Ballots and various other election-related infractions. Additionally, three of the four—Edmonds, Geter-Pataky, and Heredia—are facing charges of Tampering with a Witness.

The case traces back to the handling of absentee ballots during the Democratic primary for Bridgeport’s mayoral election in September 2019. The Secretary of State’s office referred the matter to the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) after allegations of misconduct, and the SEEC’s investigation led to a referral of criminal conduct to the Division of Criminal Justice, which was accepted by the Statewide Prosecution Bureau in June 2023.

All four are charged with tampering with the absentee ballot process during Bridgeport’s 2019 Democratic primary. In the closely contested election, incumbent Mayor Joe Ganim, who had the support of the town committee, narrowly defeated State Senator Marilyn Moore by a margin of just 270 votes, according to NBC Connecticut.  “Whether it’s people accused from the Moore campaign or my campaign — any irregularity is unacceptable,” Ganim said. “We all agree that the integrity of the voting process is vital to our democracy.”

Voter Kadeem Graham testified, “He just asked me to sign my name and then he would take care of it – handle it from there, and that was the last I saw of the ballot.”

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According to arrest warrant affidavits, each of the accused played a specific role in the scheme. Geter-Pataky allegedly failed to sign as an assister on an absentee ballot application and advised a citizen not to vote in person but instead let her handle the absentee ballot. This citizen later informed SEEC investigators that Geter-Pataky instructed her not to speak about the matter.

“I appreciate the attention and time the Statewide Prosecution Bureau put into these investigations,” Chief State’s Attorney Griffin stated. “I hope these prosecutions will send a message that deters tampering with election results in the future in Connecticut.”

Heredia is accused of instructing voters on which candidate to select on their absentee ballots and misrepresenting eligibility requirements for absentee voting. She reportedly admitted to not submitting an absentee ballot distribution list to the Bridgeport Clerk’s Office.

Castillo’s charges stem from failing to maintain an absentee ballot distribution list and misrepresenting eligibility requirements for voting by absentee ballot. He initially denied it but later admitted to helping a prospective voter fill out an absentee ballot application. Edmonds is accused of being present when voters filled out absentee ballots and taking possession of these ballots. She is also charged with tampering with a witness by allegedly instructing her not to testify truthfully in court. Moore confirmed on Tuesday that Edmonds was employed by her campaign during 2019. While Moore recognized Edmonds’ name, she admitted she couldn’t place her exactly.

As she prepares for retirement from the state Senate, Moore expressed her disappointment over the allegations that someone from her campaign team was involved in ballot mishandling. “I ran on integrity and I also ran on integrity for my Senate campaign. That’s what I tried to foster, integrity in all campaigns,” she said. “That I had a person doing the opposite bothers me, especially knowing who I am and knowing that I don’t cut corners on anything.”

The four defendants were released with promises to appear in Bridgeport Superior Court on June 24.

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Source
Las Vegas News Magazine

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