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4 arrested in Bridgeport absentee ballot case

Bridgeport city employee Wanda Geter-Pataky, center, works with her lawyer, John R. Gulash, right, to know which questions to answer so as not to incriminate herself during her testimony in Bridgeport Democratic Primary Mayoral candidate John Gomes' challenge of absentee ballots in Superior Court in Bridgeport, Conn. on Friday, October 13, 2023. Geter-Pataky was shown video clips of herself placing quantities of absentee ballots into election drop boxes. At left is Judge William Clark.
Brian A. Pounds
/
Connecticut Post / Hearst Newspapers
Bridgeport city employee Wanda Geter-Pataky, center, works with her lawyer, John R. Gulash, right, to know which questions to answer so as not to incriminate herself during her testimony in Bridgeport Democratic Primary Mayoral candidate John Gomes' challenge of absentee ballots in Superior Court in Bridgeport, Conn. on Friday, October 13, 2023. Geter-Pataky was shown video clips of herself placing quantities of absentee ballots into election drop boxes. At left is Judge William Clark.

Connecticut prosecutors charged four Bridgeport political operatives on Tuesday with abusing the absentee balloting system during the city’s 2019 Democratic primary for mayor.

Among the four individuals who are facing the election-related charges are Bridgeport city councilman Alfredo Castillo and Wanda Geter-Pataky, the vice chairwoman of the city’s Democratic Party who became the face of another major election scandal last year.

The Connecticut Chief State’s Attorney also charged Nilsa Heredia and Josephine Edmonds, two other campaign workers who were involved in the 2019 election between Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim and his Democratic challenger Marilyn Moore.

All four defendants are charged with unlawfully possessing another person’s absentee ballot.

Geter-Pataky, Edmonds and Heredia also face charges for “tampering with a witness,” on top of several other election related crimes.

The four individuals were arrested Tuesday morning, and were released with a promise to appear in Bridgeport Superior Court on June 24 to be arraigned.

None of the defendants could be reached for comment on Tuesday, and it was unclear, at this point, what attorneys are representing them in the pending criminal cases.

“Integrity of our voting process is vital to our democracy,” Chief State’s Attorney Patrick Griffin said in a prepared statement. “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 charges against the four individuals come more than four years after the primary between Ganim and Moore ended in a lawsuit and widespread allegations of absentee ballot fraud. Ganim won that primary based on his strength in the absentee votes.

It took the State Elections Enforcement Commission three years to investigate the numerous complaints about the absentee balloting process during that primary and to refer the case to the Chief State’s Attorney for potential criminal charges. It then took Griffin’s office another year to substantiate that investigation and to file the charges in state court.

Meanwhile, many of the same political operatives continued to play a major role in local elections in Bridgeport, a city with a history of ballot fraud and election do-overs.

Bridgeport’s 2023 Democratic primary for mayor also led to widespread accusations of ballot tampering after Geter-Pataky and several other people were captured on surveillance footage depositing stacks of absentee ballots into drop boxes in the city.

That evidence prompted a state Superior Court Judge to overturn the results of that primary, which Ganim also won on the strength of absentee votes.

The criminal charges filed this week do not address the alleged abuse that occurred last year during that 2023 primary between Ganim and his Democratic challenger John Gomes.

This story was originally published by the Connecticut Mirror.

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