Voter Fraud: NY County Employees Cast Illegal Ballots During Election, Feds Say

Three county employees in New York are facing federal charges after allegedly casting fraudulent ballots during the 2021 election.

Election ballot
Election ballot Photo Credit: Unsplash/Tiffany Tertipes

Rensselaer County employees Richard Crist, age 55; James Gordon, age 42; and Leslie Wallace, age 35 were each arrested Thursday, April 27, on an indictment charging them with conspiring to violate the rights of voters, according to the US Attorney’s Office in the Northern District.

Crist is the county’s director of operations, Gordon is the director of the Bureau for Central Services, and Wallace works for the Rensselaer County Executive’s Office.

According to prosecutors, the trio used their official positions and authority over county workers to get absentee ballots in voters’ names through fraud and intimidation.

"These voters did not intend to request absentee ballots, nor did they seek voting assistance from Crist, Gordon or Wallace,” the US Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

After obtaining the absentee ballots, the three then conspired to cast false and illegal votes in other people’s names in primary and general elections held in Rensselaer County in 2021, according to prosecutors.

“Their conduct violated the constitutional rights of Rensselaer County voters to have their votes counted equally as compared to votes cast by other voters, and made it more likely that the defendants’ preferred candidates would win the elections,” prosecutors said.

In addition to the conspiracy charges, Gordon is charged with one count of witness tampering, and Wallace is charged with one count of making false statements.

Crist, Gordon, and Wallace were arraigned in federal court in Syracuse, where a judge ordered them released with conditions while they await trial.

A conviction for conspiring to violate constitutional rights carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years. 

Gordon could face an additional 20 years if convicted of witness tampering, while the false statement charge could earn Wallace another five years.

News of their arrests came months after the Rensselaer County Legislature accepted the resignation of now former Republican Board of Elections Commissioner Jason Schofield after he was charged with similar federal crimes.

In January 2023, Schofield, age 43, pleaded guilty to a 12-count indictment alleging that he illegally used the names and dates of birth of other voters to fraudulently apply for absentee ballots during elections held in Rensselaer County in 2021.

On each count, he faces up to five years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000 when he’s sentenced on Friday, May 12.

In June 2022, Republican Troy Councilwoman Kimberly Ashe-McPherson pleaded guilty to a felony charge after admitting that she also fraudulently submitted absentee ballots in elections held in 2021.

She later resigned from the council.

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