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Bridgeport ballot scandal: 4 arrested for alleged roles in 2019 Dem primary

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After a five-year investigation, four individuals face charges in connection with an absentee ballot scandal during the 2019 Democratic primary races in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The suspects include a Democratic Party official, a City Council member and two campaign workers.

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The arrests are as follows:

  1. Wanda Geter-Pataky: Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee’s vice chairperson.
  2. Alfredo Castillo: A Bridgeport City Council member.
  3. Nilsa Heredia: A campaign worker.
  4. Josephine Edmonds: Another campaign worker.
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All four suspects are accused of tampering with ballots and unlawful possession of ballots during the 2019 primary mayoral election. Additionally, Geter-Pataky, Heredia and Castillo face charges of witness tampering.

Here’s some information on the case:

  • In 2019, Geter-Pataky, Heredia and Castillo supported Bridgeport incumbent Mayor Joe Ganim, D, who narrowly defeated Sen. Marilyn Moore, D-Conn., by just 270 votes in the primary.
  • Edmonds worked for Moore’s campaign.
  • After the election, allegations emerged regarding mishandling of absentee ballots, prompting the secretary of state to send a formal letter of referral to the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC).
  • The SEEC opened an investigation but didn’t refer evidence of criminal conduct to the Division of Criminal Justice until June 2023, according to Chief State’s Attorney Patrick Griffin.

Prosecutors allege that some suspects misrepresented eligibility requirements for absentee ballot voters, were present during ballot filling and even influenced voters’ candidate choices.

Griffin stated that Castillo denied helping a prospective voter fill out an application but later admitted to filling out portions of it.

Edmonds is accused of being present when four prospective voters filled out their absentee ballots and took possession of them.

“I hope these prosecutions will send a message that deters tampering with election results in the future in Connecticut,” Griffin said in a statement.

In a related incident, Straight Arrow News reported a ballot stuffing scandal in November 2023, where surveillance video allegedly shows Geter-Pataky stuffing multiple ballots into drop boxes. In the subsequent mayoral race, Ganim defeated challenger John Gomes by 251 votes. Gomes’ campaign filed a lawsuit, citing evidence of election tampering from the video.

Geter-Pataky pled the Fifth when asked to testify about her actions in the video footage. Superior Court Judge William Clark ordered a re-vote in the city’s mayoral election, resulting in Ganim securing another four years in office.

Mayor Ganim denies any wrongdoing related to the ballot scandal, despite a previous federal corruption-related conviction in 2003, for which he spent seven years in prison.

All four suspects are due in court on June 24.

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LAUREN TAYLOR:

 IT’S A CASE OF ELECTION FRAUD.

AFTER A FIVE-YEAR-LONG INVESTIGATION –

FOUR PEOPLE HAVE BEEN ARRESTED IN CONNECTION TO AN ABSENTEE BALLOT SCANDAL – INVOLVING BRIDGEPORT, CONNECTICUT’S 2019 DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY RACES. 

A DEMOCRATIC PARTY OFFICIAL – ALONG WITH A CITY COUNCIL MEMBER AND TWO CAMPAIGN WORKERS HAVE BEEN ARRESTED AND CHARGED FOR MISHANDLING ABSENTEE BALLOTS DURING THE 2019 ELECTION.

HERE ARE THE ARRESTS: 

WANDA GETER-PATAKY – BRIDGEPORT’S DEMOCRATIC TOWN COMMITTEE VICE CHAIRPERSON.

ALFREDO CASTILLO – A BRIDGEPORT CITY COUNCIL MEMBER.

NILSA HEREDIA AND JOSEPHINE EDMONDS – BOTH ARE CAMPAIGN WORKERS.

ALL FOUR SUSPECTS ARE ACCUSED OF TAMPERING WITH BALLOTS AND UNLAWFUL POSSESSION OF BALLOTS IN THE 2019 DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY MAYORAL ELECTION.

GETER-PATAKY, HEREDIA AND CASTILLO ARE ALSO CHARGED WITH WITNESS TAMPERING. 

HERE’S WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THIS CASE:

BACK IN 2019 – GETER-PATAKY, HEREDIA AND CASTILLO SUPPORTED BRIDGEPORT’S INCUMBENT MAYOR -JOE GANIM- WHO DEFEATED STATE SENATOR MARILYN MOORE BY JUST 270 VOTES IN THE PRIMARY.

EDMONDS WORKED FOR MOORE’S CAMPAIGN.

AFTER THE ELECTION – ALLEGATIONS EMERGED THAT ABSENTEE BALLOTS HAD BEEN MISHANDLED, PROMPTING THE SECRETARY OF STATE TO SEND “A FORMAL LETTER OF REFERRAL TO THE STATE ELECTIONS ENFORCEMENT COMMISSION.”

THE SEEC OPENED AN INVESTIGATION AND DIDN’T REFER EVIDENCE OF CRIMINAL CONDUCT TO THE DIVISION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE UNTIL JUNE 2023 – SAYS CHIEF STATE’S ATTORNEY PATRICK J GRIFFIN.

PROSECUTORS SAY SOME OF THE SUSPECTS MISREPRESENTED ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR ABSENTEE BALLOT VOTERS, WERE PRESENT WHEN AN APPLICANT WAS FILLING OUT AN ABSENTEE BALLOT, AND EVEN TOLD SOME APPLICANTS WHICH CANDIDATE TO VOTE FOR.

GRIFFIN SAYS CASTILLO ALLEGEDLY DENIED HELPING A PROSPECTIVE VOTER FILL OUT THE APPLICATION AND LATER ADMITTING HE HAD FILLED OUT PORTIONS OF THE APPLICATION – ACCORDING TO A DEPOSITION WITH THE SEEC ON OCTOBER 21, 2021. 

GRIFFIN ALSO STATES “EDMONDS IS ACCUSED OF BEING PRESENT WHEN FOUR PROSPECTIVE VOTERS FILLED OUT THEIR ABSENTEE BALLOTS AND TOOK POSSESSION OF THEM WHEN SHE LEFT THEIR HOME.”

GRIFFIN’S OFFICE SAID IN A STATEMENT:

“I HOPE THESE PROSECUTIONS WILL SEND A MESSAGE THAT DETERS TAMPERING WITH ELECTION RESULTS IN THE FUTURE IN CONNECTICUT.”

MEANWHILE – SOME OF THE SUSPECTS PLAYED ROLES IN BRIDGEPORT’S CONTROVERSIAL 2023 DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY FOR MAYOR. 

STRAIGHT ARROW NEWS BROUGHT YOU THE STORY IN NOVEMBER 2023 – OF THE BALLOT STUFFING SCANDAL IN WHICH IT’S ALLEGED THAT SURVEILLANCE VIDEO SHOWS GETER-PATAKY STUFFING MULTIPLE BALLOTS INTO DROP BOXES.

IN THIS MAYORAL RACE – INCUMBENT JOE GANIM DEFEATED CHALLENGER JOHN GOMES BY 251 VOTES. 

GOMES’ CAMPAIGN FILED A LAWSUIT AFTER SAYING THE VIDEO SHOWED EVIDENCE OF ELECTION TAMPERING.

GETER-PATAKY WAS ASKED ON THE STAND TO TESTIFY ABOUT HER SUPPOSED ACTIONS IN THE VIDEO FOOTAGE – AND SHE PLEADED THE FIFTH.

SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE WILLIAM CLARK ORDERED A RE-VOTE IN THE CITY’S MAYORAL ELECTION.

IN THE RE-VOTE, MAYOR JOE GANIM SECURED ANOTHER FOUR YEARS IN OFFICE. 

MAYOR GANIM HAS DENIED ANY WRONGDOING RELATED TO THE BALLOT SCANDAL. GANIM WAS PREVIOUSLY CONVICTED ON FEDERAL CORRUPTION-RELATED CHARGES IN 2003 AND SPENT 7 YEARS IN PRISON.

ALL FOUR SUSPECTS ARE DUE IN COURT ON JUNE 24.

FOR STRAIGHT ARROW NEWS, I’M LT.

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