Jason Schofield Arrested

Republicans are infamous for claiming election fraud by democrats, yet when push comes to shove it’s Republicans who are arrested for the very frauds they claim democrats are committing.

Story below:

TROY — Jason T. Schofield, the Republican Rensselaer County Board of Elections commissioner, was arrested outside his residence Tuesday morning by the FBI and charged with fraudulently obtaining and filing absentee ballots last year using the personal information of at least eight voters without their permission, according to an indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court.

The indictment handed up last week — and unsealed Tuesday during his arraignment — charges Schofield with 12 felony counts of unlawful possession and use of a means of identification.

Schofield was led into court in handcuffs just after 2 p.m. by three FBI agents, including two who have been pursuing the wide-ranging voter fraud investigation since last year. The 42-year-old entered a not guilty plea as a half-dozen of his supporters sat behind him in the courtroom. The proceeding concluded with U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel J. Stewart releasing him on his own recognizance with no objections from the U.S. attorney’s office.

Schofield turned and thanked the FBI agents when they removed his handcuffs following the short proceeding.

He declined comment as he left the courthouse with his attorney, Danielle Neroni, and the small group of supporters. Neroni said her client “continues to maintain his innocence.”

Schofield had been scheduled to play in a Republican-sponsored golf tournament Tuesday, but it was cancelled. He did not go to his office after leaving the federal courthouse. Following his arrest, workers with the county’s information technology department entered Schofield’s locked office at the Board of Elections and removed two computers and monitors. It’s unclear what prompted the removal, and who authorized it.

The indictment accuses Schofield of using an online state Board of Elections portal to request absentee ballots on behalf of eight voters who had no interest in voting, did not request absentee ballots and didn’t know that Schofield was using their personal information to obtain the ballots. The indictment alleges the official “falsely certified” that he was the person requesting the ballot when he entered the voters’ names and dates of birth in the portal.

The ballots that were delivered to the Rensselaer County Board of Elections were subsequently filled out and submitted in last year’s primary election, the general election, and sometimes both.

In some instances, documentation was completed falsely claiming the ballots were mailed to the voters at their residences.

The Times Union reported in June that Schofield had become a focus of an FBI investigation that led to the guilty plea earlier this year of Kimberly Ashe-McPherson, a Troy councilwoman. Mary E. Sweeney, the county’s Democratic deputy elections commissioner, testified before a federal grand jury in Albany last week as federal authorities zeroed in on Schofield’s use of an online portal to obtain absentee ballots.

GOP employees at the board of elections also were subpoenaed this summer to testify before the same federal grand jury in Albany. In addition, the county received a federal grand jury subpoena that sought materials related to absentee ballots that had been handled by Schofield last year, including through a state-run online portal, sources told the Times Union.

Rensselaer County employees Corine Sheldon, a senior elections registrar, and Kara Seifridsberger, another registrar, are among the witnesses who were subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury, according to sources briefed on the matter.

Schofield’s actions surfaced in the federal criminal case involving Ashe-McPherson, who had been on Troy’s City Council for seven years. The 61-year-old pleaded guilty June 8 to a felony charge in U.S. District Court after admitting she had fraudulently submitted absentee ballots in last year’s primary and general elections. Ashe-McPherson resigned from the council a day after pleading guilty.

In Ashe-McPherson’s plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court, Schofield was the unidentified board of elections official listed as “Individual-3.” According to the document, Schofield had allegedly facilitated helping Ashe-McPherson obtain an absentee ballot through an online portal using the name and date of birth of a voter without “lawful authority.”

That absentee ballot, which was mailed to Ashe-McPherson’s residence, was submitted in the Working Families Party primary election that she won a year ago prior to being re-elected to the City Council in the general election.

The grand jury subpoena recently served on the county sought copies of records related to more than a half-dozen absentee ballot applications, including several that had been obtained through the state’s online portal by Schofield.

Seifridsberger and Sheldon, who work under Schofield at the board of elections, are among dozens of county employees who were subpoenaed during the investigation that began last year. Sheldon met with FBI agents in June and testified before the federal grand jury the following day. Seifridsberger also testified, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

It’s unclear whether additional individuals will face charges in the ongoing investigation, though law enforcement sources say it is likely. The State Police also were conducting a separate investigation of alleged ballot fraud in the city of Rensselaer’s mayoral race last November — though that probe was not being coordinated with the U.S. Justice Department’s investigation.

In recent months, the federal investigation began to intensify as subpoenas seeking testimony before a federal grand jury were issued to numerous rank-and-file county workers. Their testimony was sought after additional subpoenas requesting documents from the Rensselaer County Board of Elections had been served on the county, according to two people briefed on the matter.

Those subpoenas sought absentee ballot documents and communications involving multiple county officials. They were served on the county days after FBI agents seized the mobile phones of county Operations Director Richard W. Crist and Jim Gordon, the county’s director of purchasing. Both men are political allies of county Executive Steve McLaughlin.

Their phones were seized at their respective residences on the morning of Feb. 3, according to two people briefed on the matter. The seizures took place the same day McLaughlin appeared in Rensselaer County Court for a pre-trial conference in an unrelated criminal case involving his alleged theft and misuse of campaign funds.

McLaughlin pleaded not guilty to two felony charges in that case, which is being prosecuted by the state attorney general’s office.

County Republican leaders previously told the Times Union that they were unaware of any fraudulent activity by the party during the 2021 election, and that they had simply taken advantage of a directive from the state Board of Elections that allowed individuals to use absentee ballots if they did not want to vote in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: https://www.timesunion.com/state/article/Rensselaer-County-s-Republican-elections-17438122.php

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