MIAMI (CBS4) – The absentee ballot scandal that erupted a little more than a week ago has marred two political campaigns in Miami-Dade County has now ensnared a county commissioner and the uncle of Hialeah’s former mayor.
According to CBS4 News partner The Miami Herald, Sergio “Tio” Robaina has been named as a ballot broker, or “boletero” in Spanish, who dropped off absentee ballots at Commissioner Esteban Bovo’s Hialeah office.
The ballots, which totaled 164, were later dropped off at a local post office by an aide of Bovo, named Anamary Pedrosa, according to the Herald. She quit her job on July 23rd and stopped working at the Hialeah office July 27, which was two days after investigators believe she delivered to the post office the 164 ballots that had been dropped off, according to the Herald.
Robaina turned himself in Friday to face charges and was taken to the jail’s medical ward. He bonded out several hours later.
Bovo told the Herald that Pedrosa quit because she wanted to go to law school. Pedrosa is reportedly cooperating with police and is giving authorities information about Sergio Robaina, who’s nephew is former mayor Julio Robaina.
Sergio Robaina, 74, denies any involvement. Julio Robaina could not be reached by the paper for comment.
“I never left anything there. I didn’t leave a single ballot,” Robaina, 74, said. But he admitted that “sometimes” he does collect ballots and mails them.
“I have always collected ballots of different people, even for Esteban Bovo,” Robaina said. “People call and ask for ballots. Then, you go and they put a seal on it and they send it. I’ve collected ballots because the person can’t. But mostly they send them. They have to be very old or something. And the ballots have to be sealed.”
Commissioner Bovo said Friday in a statement that he is “deeply disturbed that my name, or that of my office, is being mentioned in the same breath of an absentee ballot investigation.” Bovo continued, “None of my county employees have been authorized or instructed to work on any of the local campaigns in this election.”
“The truth and facts will reveal that neither I nor any other member of my staff utilized the Commission office for campaign purposes. Ms. Pedrosa’s situation and action are an isolated event by one individual, and I expect her to cooperate fully with the investigation. I sincerely hope that no laws were violated by her actions.”
Last week, Hialeah resident Deisy Cabrera, 56, turned herself in on charges she was collecting absentee ballots from numerous Hialeah residences and forging voter signatures before mailing them off to election officials. She is the only broker that has been charged so far and is currently out on bond.
It is against the law to possess more than two absentee ballots in Florida.