4 people arrested for misusing mail-in ballots in 2019 primary election in Bridgeport

BRIDGEPORT, CT (WFSB) – Four campaign workers involved in the 2019 Democratic primary in Bridgeport have been charged in connection with the misuse of mail-in ballots.

Alfredo Castillo, 52, Wanda Geter-Pataky, 67, Nilsa Heredia, 61, and Josephine Edmonds, 62, all of Bridgeport, were arrested.

Chief Prosecutor Patrick J. Griffin announced the arrests on Tuesday.

Inspectors from the statewide Office of the Attorney General charged them with illegal possession of mail-in ballots and other election-related offenses.

Following allegations of abuse of mail-in ballots in the September 2019 Democratic primary for mayor in Bridgeport, the Secretary of State’s office sent a formal referral letter to the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC).

The SEEC initiated a civil investigation that resulted in a vote on June 7, 2023, to refer evidence of criminal conduct to the Division of Criminal Justice, Griffin said. The referral was accepted by the Statewide Prosecution Bureau in the Office of the Attorney General.

“The integrity of our election process is critical to our democracy,” Griffin said. “I appreciate the attention and time the Statewide Prosecution Bureau has invested in these investigations. I hope these prosecutions set a precedent that prevents future manipulation of election results in Connecticut.”

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Geter-Pataky was accused of failing to sign an absentee ballot application she filled out on behalf of a prospective voter while serving as an assistant and of misrepresenting absentee ballot eligibility requirements when she told a citizen not to vote in person and that she would pick up the citizen’s absentee ballot. The citizen later told SEEC investigators that the defendant told her not to speak to anyone about the matter.

Court records show Heredia instructed prospective voters which candidate to select on their absentee ballots and misrepresented the eligibility requirements for absentee ballots. The defendant admitted to SEEC investigators that she failed to provide a list of absentee ballots to the Bridgeport City Clerk’s office.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Castillo was charged with failing to maintain a mail-in ballot roll, misrepresenting mail-in ballot eligibility requirements, and failing to act as an assistant to sign an absentee ballot application in August 2019. According to testimony before SEEC on October 21, 2021, Castillo denied helping the prospective voter complete the application, but later admitted to completing portions of the application.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Edmonds was also accused of being present as four potential voters filled out their mail-in ballots and taking possession of them as she left her home. She is also accused of failing to maintain a list for the distribution of mail-in ballots and tampering with a witness because the witness asked her not to testify truthfully in court.

Edmonds, Geter-Pataky and Heredia were also charged with witness tampering.

Geter-Pataky, Castillo and Heredia were charged with misrepresenting the requirements for voting by mail.

Castillo, Edmonds and Heredia were charged with failing to maintain a mail-in ballot mailing list.

Edmonds and Heredia were charged with being present when an applicant filed an absentee ballot.

Geter-Pataky and Castillo were charged for failing to register as assistants in a mail-in ballot.

All four defendants were released on bail to appear in Bridgeport Superior Court on June 24, 2024.