Alleged Miami-Dade Absentee Ballot Fraudster Agrees To A Plea Deal

10/08/2013 02:52 pm ET | Updated Oct 08, 2013

A Miami-Dade resident accused of absentee ballot fraud has accepted a plea deal, the Miami Herald reports.

Alleged boletera Deisy Cabrera stood accused of illegally collecting at least 31 absentee ballots for local elections last August. As part of a deal for one year of probation, according to the Herald, a felony charge of absentee ballot fraud was dropped.

Instead, Cabrera reportedly pled no contest to two misdemeanor charges of possessing more than two ballots.

The 58-year-old Hialeah resident is just one of a number of alleged boleteros working local elections in Miami-Dade. Such workers are tasked with legally offering to help voters -- typically seniors -- fill out ballots or ensure their votes are mailed. But boleteros also have the opportunity to sway or bribe voters, change ballot selections, and forge signatures.

Some, like Cabrera, have reportedly been spotted delivering stacks of ballots -- illegal to possess -- to post offices or election headquarters. And multiple candidates in last year's elections told the Herald they were contacted by boleteros offering guaranteed votes for in exchange for money.

Cabrera was pulled over last July after a tip from a private investigator prompted detectives to surveil her as she collected ballots from residential buildings in Hialeah. Before delivering them to a local post office, police said Cabrera was also spotted submitting a stack of absentee ballot request forms at the Miami-Dade Elections Department.

One elderly Hialeah resident told Local 10 that Cabrera had attempted to persuade him to vote for incumbent Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez (R), who won reelection. Another woman told El Nuevo Herald that Cabrera filled out ballots for her and her husband twice the year before while offering to move them up on a waiting list for public housing.

Cabrera reportedly kept notebooks containing lists of voters and notations indicating if the person was illiterate, blind, deaf or suffering from Alzheimer’s, according to CBSMiami. An arrest warrant obtained by The Huffington Post alleges that one of the ballots found in Cabrera's possession had been filled out on behalf of an elderly woman who was unresponsive in a nursing home.

Private investigator Joe Carrillo refused to tell police who hired him to keep tabs on Cabrera. The Miami Herald reported Cabrera was seen in the building that houses Gimenez's Hialeah campaign office and was been photographed at Gimenez events, but the mayor and his staff denied she was on his payroll.

Additionally, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle recused herself from the case after a staffer on her own reelection campaign was spotted with Cabrera.

The practice of ballot brokering is pervasive in Miami-Dade: records show another alleged local boletera was paid by Florida Governor Rick Scott during his 2010 election campaign, and according to CBS Miami Cabrera has also worked for former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R) and state Sen. Rene García (R).

A week after Cabrera was arrested, the uncle of former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina was arrested and accused of filling out two absentee ballots against the intentions of voters, one of whom suffered from dementia.

Republicans in Miami-Dade have been told to stop hiring boleteros, county party chairman Nelson Díaz told the Herald in May.

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