By JAVIER MANJARRESDo not pass GO. Do not collect $200. Go directly to jail.
That is what will happen to Democratic Congressman Joe Garcia’s former chief of staff and advisor, Jeffrey Garcia.
It is being reported that Jeff Garcia has struck a deal with the Miami-Dade attorney’s office, for his part in arranging the fraudulent, online absentee-ballot request scheme during the 2012 election cycle.
According to the plea deal, Garcia will spend 90 days in the county jail, after he pleads guilty to the felony of “requesting absentee ballots on behalf of voters.”
“He accepts responsibility for his conduct which involved requesting absentee ballots for voters when it was the voters themselves who are required to make the requests,” Bell said in an statement. “Jeff is a good person who made a mistake. He is sorry and is doing the right thing in admitting this and accepting responsibility.”-Henry Bell, attorney for Jeffrey Garcia
The Miami Herald, who originally broke the story, added this in their follow story about the plea deal being struck:
Prosecutors tied Jeffrey Garcia to hundreds of phony ballot requests submitted for last year’s elections on behalf of unsuspecting voters without their permission. Though none of those ballots were mailed, forged or cast, Joe Garcia’s campaign planned to target those infrequent voters with telephone calls, fliers and visits to try to persuade them to vote for the candidate.
Investigators reopened their probe into the ploy in February after the Herald reported that almost 500 of the August 2012 primary ballot requests in Garcia’s congressional district could be further traced through Internet Protocol addresses that originated in Miami. Florida elections law prohibits anyone other than voters or their immediate family members from submitting online ballot requests.
Jeffrey Garcia, who was also an advisor to Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy, is also suspected by grassroots activists of possibly conducting the same type of scheme in the highly contentious congressional race between Murphy and former Congressman Allen West.It is not known if federal officials have been, or will be looking into any possible fraud committed by Garcia in West-Murphy race.
Republican Carlos Curbelo, who is currently on the Miami-Dade County School Board and a congressional candidate, looking to unseat Congressman Joe Garcia, said that the guilty plea was “an indictment of Joe Garcia’s judgment and of his win-at-all cost approach to elections.
Curbelo added that Garcia’s “unhealthy obsession with elected office” has made him “unfit to serve us in Congress.”
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