Paterson Council president, members of campaign face election fraud charges
Paterson Council President Alex Mendez is facing new election fraud charges from his 2020 third ward campaign. New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin claims that among other things, blank ballots were used as replacement ballots stolen from voters’ mailboxes.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire campaign was done by mail. News 12 has reached out to Mendez for an interview but did not hear back yet.
Some of the charges include conspiracy to commit election fraud, fraud in casting mail-in votes, unauthorized possession of ballots and tampering with public records. Mendez’s wife Yohanny Mendez, campaign manager Omar Ledesma and political supporter Iris Rigo are also facing charges.
Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh tells News 12 that he has not spoken to the council president, but that he knows the 48-year-old is maintaining his innocence.
“He knows that these are serious charges, but is adamant about fighting this until the end,” Sayegh says.
The New Jersey Office of the Attorney General claims that a week before the election, Mendez allegedly watched from his wife’s vehicle how a large, heavy bag, filled with ballots was emptied into a mailbox in Haledon.
He is also accused of personally collecting vote-by-mail ballots and supervising ballots getting stolen from local mailboxes. His wife allegedly would destroy the ballots favoring his opponent, William McKoy, replacing them with ballots in favor of Mendez.
According to Platkin, Omar Ledesma is accused of taking ballots out of mailboxes in certain neighborhoods and apartment buildings that had a large number of McKoy supporters.
Platkin also claims that Mendez and his co-defendants tampered with witnesses to avoid prosecution.
Authorities did not reveal why it has taken so much time to file the new charges.
The charges also claim that if a voter turned over an incomplete ballot, Mendez’s campaign workers would complete it.