Four Connecticut Dems Charged: Know The Reason Behind It

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Years after their role in the 2019 Bridgeport Democratic mayoral primary incident, four Connecticut campaign workers were charged with misusing absentee votes.

Bridgeport City Councilman Alfredo Castillo, 52, vice chair of the city’s Democratic Party leader Wanda Geter-Pataky, 67, and two 2019 campaign employees, Nilsa Heredia, 61, who worked for Mayor Joe Ganim and Josephine Edmonds, 62, who worked for Ganim’s primary opponent Marilyn Moore, were named as the defendants on Tuesday. The four defendants each face further accusations in addition to the initial accusation of unlawful possession of absentee ballots.

Investigators said that in September 2019, the group was first accused of manipulating absentee ballots in the mayoral primary contest. In the primary, Joe Ganim, the current mayor, narrowly defeated John Gomes by a margin of only 251 votes.

Gomes subsequently filed a lawsuit, claiming that absentee ballots had been improperly handled, and he included video footage showing Democratic Town Committee member Geter-Pataky frequently depositing absentee ballots into drop boxes or giving them to other people, who would then do the same.

The judge ruled with Gomes, determining that a new primary election was necessary due to the overwhelming amount of damaging evidence.

The superior court judge stated in a November 2023 letter that “the volume of ballots so mishandled is such that it calls the result of the primary election into serious doubt and leaves the court unable to determine the legitimate result of the primary.”

The Secretary of State’s office forwarded a letter of referral to the State Elections Enforcement Commission in response to the claims of improper handling of absentee ballots in 2019.

The commission subsequently launched a civil investigation, which led to a decision on June 7, 2023, to refer evidence of criminal conduct to the Division of Criminal Justice. The Office of the Chief State’s Attorney accepted the vote, according to investigators.

“Integrity of our voting process is vital to our democracy,” Chief State’s Attorney Griffin said. “I appreciate the attention and time the Statewide Prosecution Bureau put into these investigations. I hope these prosecutions will send a message that deters tampering with election results in the future in Connecticut.”

The people are also charged with additional election-related offences. A few were accused of interfering with a witness, falsifying the qualifications needed to cast an absentee ballot, neglecting to keep an absentee ballot distribution list and other offences.

On the condition that they show up in Bridgeport Superior Court on June 24, all four were freed.

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