On Tuesday, Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson arrested former Assembly candidate Hector Ramirez along with another individual, Ana Cuevas. They were arraigned, entered pleas of not guilty, and were released on personal recognizance bonds of $25,000 and $10,000, respectively, on Tuesday afternoon. Mr. Ramirez was represented by attorney Angel Cruz and Ms. Cuevas was represented by Larry Sheehan.
The charges are related to the 2014 race in the 86th AD where Ramirez was accused of election fraud involving absentee ballots. Ramirez was narrowly defeated by the incumbent Assemblyman Victor Pichard. Pichardo won 86th Assembly District Democratic primary in a Bronx Board of Elections supervised manual recount by TWO votes over two-time challenger Hector Ramirez.
Hector Ramirez and Ana Cuevas (Ramirez’s campaign manager in 2014), were indicted on seven counts for each allegedly false instrument submitted to The Board of Elections in the City of New York totaling 242 counts involving absentee ballots and applications for some 32-35 persons, some of whom were not eligible to vote.
The counts are forgery in the second degree, criminal possession of forged instruments in the second degree, falsifying business records in the first degree, offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree,tampering with public records in the first degree, and two separate counts of illegal voting. The duo are accused of acting in concert in falsifying and submitting fraudulent absentee ballot applications and ballots bearing the names of voters between August 14 and primary day, September 9, 2014 and inducing ineligible persons to vote in that primary.
“That is absurd overcharging,” said attorney Sarah Steiner when apprised of Tuesday’s arrest and indictment filed against her former election law client. Ms. Steiner represented Mr. Ramirez in the 2014 Democratic primary election recount and before that bound his nominating petitions.
Assemblyman Pichardo hailed the actions of D.A. Johnson and called the indictments of Hector Ramirez and his campaign manager for election fraud another shameful chapter in Bronx politics.
“While I am grateful that justice is being served, it is still disheartening to know that there are individuals who believe it is acceptable to deceive voters and circumvent our democratic process,” said Assemblyman Pichardo in a statement.
In an email, Mr. Ramirez’s attorney Angel Cruz wrote:
“We will not try this case in the press – despite the political overtures and allegations in the indictment – nevertheless my client Mr Ramirez has entered a plea of not guilty to the charges lodged against him and looks forward to a trial where he expects to be vindicated. Until then we await the fair administration of justice.”
Bronx D.A. Robert Johnson did not issue a statement on Tuesday.
Ramirez, a former Democratic district leader, lost an Assembly race in 2008 to disgraced former assemblyman Nelson Castro, who had lied to authorities over an election matter. Castro secretly recorded conversations with other state lawmakers as a government informant for five years. He helped take down fellow Bronx assemblyman Eric Stevenson on bribery charges. Castro later pleaded guilty to lying to state and federal investigators. He was sentenced to community service and given three years conditional discharge in 2014.
Ramirez and Cuevas are due in court again on July 8, Part 60 before Justice Steven Barrett.[H/t to Gary Tilzer (@unitednyblogs) whose tweet tipped The Bronx Chronicle off about D.A Johnson’s expected announcement of the Ramirez/Cuevas indictments.]