Democratic officials charged in connection with alleged voter fraud in mayoral primary involving felon incumbent

Four people involved with a primary race in Connecticut several years ago now face criminal charges related to election fraud.

The case relates to the 2019 Democratic mayoral primary in Bridgeport, the most populous city in Connecticut. In that race, state Sen. Marilyn Moore took on longtime incumbent Mayor Joe Ganim, whose tenure in office was interrupted while he spent seven years in prison for 16 felony charges related to political corruption.

‘I did not fill it out or sign it. It also had my name misspelled.’

On Primary Election Day that year, Moore seemed to eke out a victory. However, after absentee ballots were tallied that evening, Ganim was pronounced the winner by a mere 270 votes.

Last year, four years after that primary race, state election officials voted unanimously to recommend criminal charges for various campaign workers affiliated with it. Now, such charges have finally been filed.

The lone Moore campaign official to be charged is Josephine Edmonds, who has been accused of mishandling ballots and tampering with a witness. One of the absentee ballots that Edmonds allegedly altered even repeatedly misspelled the voter’s name.

“I was shown an absentee ballot application,” the voter said in a sworn statement. “I did not fill it out or sign it. It also had my name misspelled. I told this to the Court, also saying I had never seen that before.”

Moore stated that she is relieved that bad actors, including perhaps a former member of her team, may finally be held accountable for their actions during that campaign. “For me, it doesn’t matter who did it,” she said Tuesday. “… Wrong is wrong.”

The three others charged in connection with this case all worked for the Ganim campaign, and two of the three also happen to be Democratic officials in Bridgeport. Alfredo Castillo is a Democratic city councilman, and he faces charges related to mishandling and illegally possessing absentee ballots

A former resident of Castillo’s district alleged that Castillo picked up an absentee ballot from his home before he ever had a chance to fill it out. Castillo initially denied knowing the resident or working to procure him an absentee ballot. He then later reportedly admitted that his handwriting appears on portions of the ballot but continued to say he never took possession of it.

“Not me. I didn’t take no absentee ballot. I don’t do that,” Castillo said, according to the CT Mirror. “I don’t touch none of that stuff. … He didn’t give me no ballot.”

Wanda Geter-Pataky, a longtime supporter of Ganim, is the vice chairwoman of the city’s Democratic Party. She has been accused of tampering with a witness and filling out an absentee ballot for another person without proper authorization.

“Wanda told me to only sign the bottom of the blank application,” one acquaintance said, according to charging documents. “She told me not to put the date on the application. I believe Wanda Geter helped me with the application by filling in the upper portion, but I did not see her write on this document. I signed the bottom of the application.”

Geter-Pataky has also been accused of stuffing ballot boxes at City Hall in the days leading up to the 2023 Democratic primary between Ganim and challenger John Gomes. The accusations led to a primary-election redo, though Ganim was ultimately declared the winner of both the primary and the general election.

Such ‘inaction is an affront to good governances and transparency.’

The final Ganim campaign worker charged in connection with the 2019 race is Nilsa Heredia. In addition to similar charges related to mishandling or illegally possessing ballots, she has also been slapped with one count of witness tampering after she allegedly asked a witness not to talk to investigators.

Chief State’s Attorney Patrick Griffin claimed he hoped that all these charges might help restore faith in the voting process: “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.”

Ganim’s office said only that it had just learned about the charges. “We have not been provided with any details other than what is contained in media reports,” the office said in a statement.

Frank Ricci, a New Haven fire chief and fellow at the Yankee Institute, told Blaze News that he is outraged by the near silence from Ganim, claiming that such “inaction is an affront to good governances and transparency.”

“Rooting out alleged corruption should transcend partisan politics and is the responsibility of the mayor’s administration and law enforcement,” Ricci said. “It’s concerning that previous allegations in 2019 didn’t result in any internal employment action. It’s disturbing that the 2023 allegations has so far resulted only in the taxpayers footing the bill for paid leave.”

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