Councilman-elect Alex Mendez is seeking to reverse judge Ernest Caposela’s decision blocking him from taking office at the City Council reorganization meeting on Wednesday afternoon.
Mendez is claiming the judge relied on faulty information, particularly the statements from a person named Yaya Mendez, to grant the injunction sought by councilman William McKoy. His attorney Gregg Paster has filed an affidavit from a person named Yurduka Yahaira Mendez Franco stating she never carried bundles of ballots for the Mendez campaign. Previously, the McKoy campaign had filed in court alleging a certain Yahaira “YaYa” Mendez, who worked for the Mendez team, admitted she “carried numerous stacks of ballots” at the direction of the councilman-elect’s campaign.
“It was a complete miscarriage of justice for McKoy to present false information to the Court,” said Paster on Tuesday night. “Their essential argument was based on false information. Clearly all of the information presented is based on hearsay and false information.”
Paster’s filing states Yuderka Mendez Franco and Yahaira “YaYa” Mendez are the same individual.
But McKoy’s attorney Scott Salmon says these are two different individuals.
“Our person is Yahaira Luis Mendez, but she goes by Yaya. They’re trying to force it by writing Yahaira Mendez, but note this person handwrote Yurduka in, because that’s her actual name. We have no idea why they’re convinced these are the same person, but they’re not,” said Salmon.
The affidavit document has Yurduka handwritten, but Yahaira Mendez is typed.
Salmon said a photograph of Franco and Mendez does not match.
Salmon has opposed Paster’s motion for reconsideration of Caposela’s injunction. He also pointed out the judge did not rely on information provided by the campaign worker to make his decision.
Caposela makes no mention of the campaign worker’s statement in his opinion.
Mendez won the election by 240 votes. 1,109 mail-in ballots or nearly a quarter of the votes were rejected in the 3rd Ward race, according to the judge’s written opinion. Given the high rejection rate and voter fraud, there’s “no way to tell with reasonable certainty what the actual results of the election were,” reads the opinion.
Mendez has been charged with voter fraud and election fraud. He is accused of collecting mail-in ballots from voters and knowingly submitting a false voter registration form. Another council member, Michael Jackson, has been charged with voter fraud, but he will be allowed to take office on July 1 because no one has sought a court injunction to stop him.
If Mendez “could be sworn into office despite the allegations, this would significantly reduce the public’s confidence and trust in the electoral process and its trust in government generally,” wrote the judge in his opinion. “The public deserves to know the true results of the election, which cannot be determined at this time with reasonable certainty. There is far less hardship experienced by leaving a City Council seat vacant pending litigation, than allowing the seat to be filled with a candidate who may not deserve to hold that seat in the first place.”
Mendez, as a City Council member, could make decisions that could cause harm that “cannot be reversed or un-done,” says the judge’s decision.
Paster’s filing states Franco worked for the Mendez campaign on May 3 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. under the direction of Omar Ledesma. She conducted literature drops at houses in the vicinity of Route 20 and was paid $70 cash for her work at the end of the day.
Salmon said the Mendez affidavit of the campaign worker is an admission the councilman-elect’s campaign broke campaign finance laws by paying a worker in cash. State law requires campaign workers to be paid in check.
“So not only did they have this poor woman sign something admitting she broke the law, but they’ve also admitted that the campaign itself broke the law,” said Salmon. “We’ve forwarded this to the proper authorities for further investigation.”
McKoy has filed in court to invalidate the results of the 3rd Ward election because of widespread voter fraud. He has publicly said the election was stolen from him.
McKoy is a five-term City Council member.
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