Two North Fork men who work for the Suffolk County Board of Elections were arrested Tuesday and accused of forging signatures on nominating petitions in a “brazen scheme” ahead of the 2018 election, according to Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini.
William Mann, 60, of Cutchogue and Gregory Dickerson, 55, of Mattituck both face a top charge of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, a felony, the DA announced. A pair of political party officials from East Hampton, Amos Goodman, 35, and Patricia Mansir, 72, were also arrested as part of the investigation.
“Through their alleged actions, the defendants corrupted the democratic process and violated the public’s trust,” Mr. Sini said in a statement. “This brazen scheme to get preferred candidates on the November 2018 ballot by any means necessary included the alleged filing of petitions with forged signatures, some of which included forged signatures of deceased individuals.”
Mr. Mann is accused of misrepresenting himself to Green Party voters in July while collecting petitions for countywide judge positions. The News-Review detailed the scheme in an August story.
Mr. Mann, a BOE employee and registered Republican, allegedly sought out Green Party members to obtain their signature on a petition that featured the names of Republican candidates.
The Green Party did not have any judge candidates.
Mr. Mann allegedly submitted nominating petitions for Green Party judicial candidates containing three forged signatures, including one signature of a resident who is deceased, the DA said. He’s also charged with first degree offering a false instrument for filing, a felony. He was charged with two counts of official misconduct, a misdemeanor, for falsely claiming to be collecting signatures as a member of the Green Party.
Mr. Sini said the way Mr. Mann used his position on the BOE to deceive voters into signing petitions is “unacceptable.”
“If you abuse your position of public trust and attempt to disrupt the integrity of the election process, you will be brought to justice,” he said.
Mr. Dickerson also works for the BOE. He allegedly submitted two nominating petition forms for Green Party judicial candidates containing two forged signatures, the DA said. He faces two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and two counts of first degree offering a false instrument for filing.
Both Mr. Mann and Mr. Dickerson were arraigned Tuesday in First District Court in Central Islip and released.
The incident date listed in the court records for both Mr. Mann and Mr. Dickerson is July 10, which matches the timeframe of when people reported being duped by Mr. Mann. Wendy Polhemus-Annibell of Laurel had played a phone message for a Suffolk Times reporter that she received July 11.
“This is William Mann from the Board of Elections. I’m working for the Green Party,” the message said.
He was specifically looking for Ms. Polhemus-Annibell, one of 51 registered Green Party members in Southold Town, and asked her to call him so he could meet her at her house to sign the petition.
“I live in Cutchogue and I’m running petitions,” the message from Mr. Mann states. “They have to be [submitted] for the Green Party tomorrow.”
In a July interview with the News-Review, Pauline Salotti, Suffolk County chair of the Green Party, said in previous years, neither the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office nor the state attorney general “paid much attention to similar reports of misrepresentation fraud.”
After receiving complaints from the representatives of the Suffolk County Green Party, the East Hampton Town Republican Party and the East Hampton Town Independence Party, the DA’s Public Integrity Bureau launched a comprehensive investigation into the allegations, the DA said Tuesday.
The investigation did not reveal evidence that any of the candidates were aware of or involved in the alleged schemes, the DA said.
Mr. Mann was allegedly suspended for two days by the Board of Elections for collecting the petition signatures, Newsday reported in August. Mr. Mann declined comment when reached by the News-Review in July.
Other residents from Southold and Riverhead shared similar stories.
Celeste Tracy of Aquebogue was also asked by Mr. Mann to sign a petition. Ms. Tracy her husband and daughter all signed the petition.
She said he did return the following day and apologized.
Ms. Tracy was one of 32 registered Green Party members in Riverhead Town.
Mr. Mann and Mr. Dickerson are represented by Mattituck attorney William Goggins, who could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday night.
Ms. Mansir is the vice chairperson of the East Hampton Town Independence Party and a former East Hampton Town Councilwoman. She’s charged with four counts of second degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and four counts of first degree offering a false instrument for filing. She allegedly submitted nominating petitions for an Independence Party candidate for East Hampton Town Council containing eight forged signatures, including one signature of a deceased resident.
Mr. Goodman is the former chairman of the East Hampton Town Republican Party. He faces 10 counts of second degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and 10 counts of first degree offering a false instrument for filing. He allegedly submitted nominating petitions that contained at least 43 forgeries, the DA said. The petitions were for Green Party judicial candidates, an Independence Party candidate for East Hampton Town Council and a Republican Party candidate for East Hampton Town Council. He also submitted a nominating petition containing the signature of a deceased person.
Mr. Goodman is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday. For more details on the East Hampton cases, click here.