Election Fraud Cases
Jason Schofield, a Republican Elections Commissioner for Rensselaer County Board of Elections in Troy, New York, was federally charged with 12 felony counts of unlawful possession and use of a means of identification of another person to fraudulently request, complete, and submit absentee ballots on behalf of voters during the 2021 Rensselaer County Primary and General elections. Schofield, and other Rensselaer election board employees working under his direction, used the New York State Board of Elections website to request absentee ballots on behalf of 8 voters using their names and dates of birth. These individuals had either no interest in voting absentee or otherwise, did not request absentee ballots or assistance to vote or obtain an absentee ballot, or did not know Schofield was using their personal information. Schofield personally obtained 4 absentee ballots knowing that the county board of elections records would falsely reflect the ballots were mailed to the voters via USPS. For the other 4 voters, Schofield completed the ballots and brought the ballots to the voters, instructed them to sign the ballot envelopes, which were submitted in the elections. Schofield pleaded guilty to all 12 felony charges He has resigned from his position as Commissioner of the Rensselaer County Board of Elections as part of his plea agreement and is ordered to pay an assessment of $1,200 at the time of sentencing. He faces a maximum of 5 years in prison and fines of $250,000 and cannot accept reappointment to the Board of Elections as long as he is on probation or supervised release.
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Kimberly McPherson, a city of Troy council member and Republican, pleaded guilty to one count of identity theft for casting absentee ballots in the names of two other people in the 2021 city council election. In seeking re-election, McPherson cast at least one absentee ballot on behalf of another during the primary election, and during the general election cast absentee ballots for at least two people other than herself. As part of her plea agreement, McPherson has agreed to resign her position on the city council. She faces up to 5 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 when she is sentenced.
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Bert Goldfinger voted twice in the 2013 general election - by absentee ballot in Columbia County, and in person in New York City. At the time, Goldfinger was a dentist in New York who maintained a summer home in Columbia County. Goldfinger initially faced two felony charges for knowingly filing a false instrument and illegal voting, but as part of a plea agreement, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge. Goldfinger was ordered to pay a fine and surcharge of $225 and complete 20 hours of community service.
Volvy Smilowitz, along with Kenneth Nakdiem and Shalom Lamm, conspired to falsely register non-residents to vote in the 2014 village election in Bloomingburg, with the goal of electing board members who would favor their planned housing develoment project. They also bribed some non-residents to vote. To cover their tracks, the cabal created fake leases and decorated apartments to look like people lived in them. Smilowitz pleaded guilty to conspiring to corrupt the electoral process and was sentenced to three months' imprisonment followed by one year of supervised release, as well as a $2,500 fine.
Shalom Lamm, a 57-year-old real estate developer, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to corrupt the election process. He had partnered with another developer, Kenneth Nakdimen, to use false voter registrations to assist in electing officials that would be favorable toward a development project of theirs. Lamm was sentenced to 10 months in prison, one year supervised release, 400 hours of community service, and a $20,000 fine.
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Shalom Lamm's co-defendant, Kenneth Nakdimen, also a real estate developer from Monsey, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to corrupt the electoral process. Nakdimen and his partners planted items in unoccupied apartments to give a semblance of occupancy to falsely registered voters. He was sentenced to six months in prison in addition to one year of supervised release, 400 hours of community service, and a $20,000 fine.
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Rus Thompson, a political activist, pleaded guilty to one count of offering a false instrument for filing. Thompson, a longtime resident of Grand Island, was evicted from his home and moved to Niagara County. Nevertheless, Thompson signed an affidavit falsely claiming to be a Grand Island resident and voted there in the 2015 primary. The terms of Thompson's plea agreement stipulate that he will receive probation, thus avoiding any jail time. Thompson is set to be officially sentenced on May 3, 2017.
Harold Baird, of Sullivan County, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to submit false voter registrations. Although not a resident of Bloomingburg, Baird--a former town supervisor of Mamakating, NY--sought to run for a village trustee position there in 2014. His losing bid for the office was part of a scheme with real estate developers to manipulate the election process so that Baird would later give favorable treatment to their development project.
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Ana Cuevas, a campaign aide for Hector Ramirez, pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after she and other staff went door to door tricking potential voters into signing absentee ballot applications. They then took the applications to the Board of Elections, retrieved the absentee ballots, and voted for Ramirez without the voters' knowledge. Cuevas was sentenced to conditional discharge.
Ernest Everett was convicted on three counts of offering a false instrument for filing. Everett was initially charged with second-degree forgery and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. The charges stemmed from Everett filing nominating petitions that he knew were falsified with the Rensselaer County Board of Elections to run in the Democratic primary for mayor in 2015. Three of the seven misdemeanor charges were subsequently dismissed. Of the four remaining misdemeanor charges, a jury found Everett guilty of three counts of offering a false instrument for filing. Everett received a sentence of 90 hours of community service, to be served through the Rensselaer County Sheriff's Work Program.
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Hector Ramirez pleaded guilty to one count of criminal possession of a forged instrument. Ramirez, a 2014 State Assembly Candidate for the 86th District Assemby District, deceived voters into giving their absentee ballots to his campaign on the false premise that the campaign would then submit the ballots. Instead, Ramirez's campaign inserted his name on at least thirty-five of the absentee ballots. Ramirez initially won the 2014 race, but a recount determined he had lost by two votes. In lieu of jail time, Bronx Supreme Court Justice Steven Barrett imposed a three-year ban on Ramirez running for office. Ramirez could face jail time if he runs for office in violation of his three-year ban. Prior to his guilty plea, Ramirez unsuccessfully ran for the same state assembly seat on numerous occasions, most recently in the 2016 election.
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Frank Sparaco was, as his overseeing judge referred to him, a "rising star [who] has fallen very quickly, very far." A Rockland County Legislator, Sparaco pleaded guilty to eight misdemeanor charges for filing election petitions that nominated individuals to Clarkstown Republican Committee positions, while listing addresses that were not their true residences. In addition, he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges of furnishing false information by "renting" a room in his home so that he could register two other individuals to vote. He was forced to resign from his $103,000-per-year county legislator position and was sentenced to serve eight weekends of county jail time followed by three years' probation. He will be ineligible to hold political office during the probation.
William McInerney, John Brown, Anthony DeFiglio, and Anthony Renna pleaded guilty to felony charges, having forged signatures on absentee ballots during the 2009 Working Families Party primary in the city of Troy. Sentences: John Brown, six months' imprisonment; Anthony DeFiglio, 100 hours' community service; Anthony Renna, 200 hours in work-order program; William McInerney, 90 days in work-order program.
Undercover New York City Department of Investigation agents testing the integrity of New York City elections were able to vote 61 times out of 63 attempts using the names of ineligible voters, known felons, and deceased city residents.
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Fran Knapp, former Dutchess County Democratic Elections Commissioner, pleaded guilty to signing a poll watcher's certificate while unauthorized in 2012 and falsifying a treasurer's report for her husband's 2007 Poughkeepsie mayoral campaign (both misdemeanors). As part of a plea agreement, she agreed to resign and pay a $175 fine.
Debra Ortutay, former Rockland County Independence Party chairwoman, pleaded guilty to multiple criminal charges in relation to fraudulent petition signatures and perjury before a grand jury. She had signed ballot petitions multiple times and falsely claimed that she had witnessed voters signing them. Ortutay was sentenced to four months in jail and five years' probation.
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Angela Gumbarevic pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a forged instrument for allegedly forging signatures on her petition to be a candidate for the office of Oneida County Sheriff. She was sentenced to five years' probation and 150 hours of community service.
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Dominick Forte pleaded guilty to a felony forgery charge in connection with election misconduct as the leader of the Town of Cornwall's Conservative Party committee. Forte admitted to signing fake signatures on nominating petitions in a race for a county legislature seat. He was sentenced to a conditional discharge.
Vincent Sculco, Republican Chairman for the town of North Greenbush, pleaded guilty to forging a signature on a nomination petition for a 2007 election. The investigation revealed that Sculco may have forged more than 40 signatures. Sculco was sentenced to the sheriff's work-order program.
Clyde Gerbeck of Syracuse, New York pleaded guilty to voting twice in a 2005 primary election and received a conditional discharge sentence.
Richard Saint Angel pleaded guilty to several offenses under New York State Penal Law in relation to hundreds of forged petition signatures provided to the Dutchess County Board of Elections in an attempt to make it on to the ballot as a candidate for Town Supervisor in Poughkeepsie, NY. He was sentenced to one year in jail.
John O'Hara deliberately registered to vote using his girlfriend's address so that he could continue to vote and run for office in his old district. District lines were changed in 1992 during redistricting, prompting O'Hara to use the address, despite it not being his permanent residence. He was sentenced to 1,500 hours of community service and fined $20,000.
Vander Beatty, a former New York state senator, was convicted of multiple criminal charges, including forgery and conspiracy, in relation to election fraud. He led others in a scheme to forge hundreds of voter registration cards to challenge the result of the 1982 congressional primary that he lost. He was sentenced to 16 months in prison and fined $5,000.
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