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Worker takes the Fifth in challenge to Suozzi’s petitions

(L-R) State Sen. Jack Martins (R-Old Westbury) and

(L-R) State Sen. Jack Martins (R-Old Westbury) and Democratic congressional candidate Thomas Suozzi. Credit: James Escher

A campaign worker who witnessed petition signatures cited the Fifth Amendment Tuesday to avoid testifying on whether he saw a voter sign nominating petitions for Democratic congressional candidate Thomas Suozzi’s “Fix Washington” ballot line.

Haig Minassian, under questioning from Joseph Nocella, an attorney for those challenging the petitions in State Supreme Court, took the Fifth after he was asked if he followed the instructions on the petitions that a witness must see a voter sign the candidate’s petitions.

Backers of State Sen. Jack Martins (R-Old Westbury) have called for Suozzi’s petitions for an independent “Fix Washington” line to be thrown out because they say they are riddled with fraudulent signatures. They claim at least four Suozzi campaign workers improperly included signatures of 40 voters who in the court hearing have either denied signing the petition. In two cases, they say, the signatures are of two dead voters.

The Suozzi campaign said it fired Minassian as soon as it learned of the incident and there were only several isolated cases in which overenthusiastic supporters acted improperly.

In all, Suozzi filed 5,712 signatures to qualify for the ballot line; 3,500 valid signatures are needed to qualify.

However, E. O’Brien Murray, Martins’ spokesman, said 1,982 signatures already have been disallowed by the state board of elections, leaving 3,730 for the ongoing court review.

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