A Nassau County clerk’s employee who worked on Legis. John Ferretti Jr.’s election campaign was arrested Tuesday for allegedly altering sample ballots to favor Ferretti during September’s Republican primary.
Jonathan Maldonado, 36, of Garden City, pleaded not guilty in First District Court in Hempstead to a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct and two unclassified misdemeanor counts in connection with a primary election, according to a news release from District Attorney Madeline Singas. Unclassified charges are outside the penal law, but still have criminal consequences.
Singas said Maldonado, who earned $46,600 last year as Republican County Clerk Maureen O’Connell’s driver, was the chairman of the board of inspectors at a Seaford polling place when he allegedly placed 511 sample ballots on the sign-in tables, directing voters to cast their ballots for Ferretti, who was O’Connell’s chief deputy. Ferretti also is Nassau Republican Chairman Joseph Mondello’s great-nephew.
The altered ballots had an arrow pointing to Ferretti’s name with handwritten instructions to “Fill in the Oval Here.” Singas said an identically altered sample ballot was distributed with Ferretti campaign literature.
NYPD Det. Jim Coll, a Seaford Republican, had won an eleventh-hour court appeal to primary Ferretti. Coll called the district attorney when he saw the altered sample ballots.
“I had said all along that the [Republican] machine wasn’t waging a fair fight,” Coll said Tuesday. “The sense of entitlement overshadowed how elections should be conducted.”
Ferretti (R-Levittown), who won the primary and general election, did not return a call for comment Tuesday. He had said in September that he had nothing to do with the doctored ballots.
Maldonado could not be reached for comment. His attorney Barry Bassik did not return a call for comment.
O’Connell also did not return a call.
Singas, a Democrat, said Maldonado allegedly abused his access as a county employee and paid elections inspector “to help his boss’ campaign . . . I hope this prosecution will send a strong message that we have no tolerance for any effort to deprive the people of Nassau County of their right to free and fair elections.”
Maldonado was released on his own recognizance. He faces up to a year in jail on the top count.
Singas spokesman Brendan Brosh said the charge came six months after the primary because “this was a comprehensive investigation that necessitated not only careful review of the facts and law, but the Board of Elections records, training, and protocols.”