Hialeah boletera is arrested — more dominos to fall
The Hialeah boletera turned herself in to authorities today — one day after El Nuevo Herald’s dogged reporters find a woman, an Alzheimer’s patient who was put into treatment at an ALF center months ago, whose absentee ballot was apparently forged.
But wait, there is more. Another arrest is pending. At least one more. Ladra just got word that the judge signed two arrest warrants, not one, in the Hialeah AB case. Hmmmm… I have a whole list of suspects.
Daisy Cabrera, second from left at the Gimenez campaign office opening, , was charged today with a misdemeanor for picking up ABs,Vivian Casals-Muñoz, on the right, could and should be called in for questioning.
Indeed, Cabrera is in jail right now (until she is bailed out by her patrons), having been charged with a third degree misdemeanor by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office after a judge finally signed her arrest warrant. She should be charged with a felony for forging a signature on someone’s ballot. And she might still be.
In fact, the investigation is not over, authorities say, and sources close to what is going on tell Ladra there are more arrests, perhaps even indictments coming and that some sitting legislator may be charged by the end of the day.
The case-cracking story in El Nuevo – because, again, we have journalists doing the work of law enforcement and prosecutors whose best interest is served by doing nothing — is sickening. It says that among the 31 ballots caught on boleteras Daisy Cabrera and Matilde Martinez was one on which the envelope had a note: “I signed for my sister. She has arthritis and it is difficult for her to sign,” the envelope said. But the story quotes the voter’s sister, Olga Gómez, who told Enrique Flor and Melissa Sanchez, two of the best gumshoe reporters I know, that she never wrote that. She further explained — which she apparently also told investigators about — that two weeks ago, Cabrera took her sister’s blank ballot from her home and promised to take it to her sister at the retirement home in Miami Springs.
The sisters have known Cabrera for four years — since the boletera first visited them during the last presidential election to “help them” with their absentee ballots, Gomez, 68, told the reporters. “She was going to the home,” Gomez said. “I don’t know if she went, but it is a lie that I signed that.”
No, Ladra is not celebrating the felony forgery of someone’s ballot. But, finally, what started with a tip to a PI who followed a couple of known absentee ballot “runners” who have worked the circuit of public housing and ALFs for years — stealing votes from these unsuspecting victims for their candidates and bosses — has exposed the rampant AB fraud and manipulation that has permeated our electoral process.
So Cabrera (and, hopefully, Martinez, even though she was just driving; she’s a conspirator) have been charged, at last, a week after they were caught red-handed holding more than the legally allowed two ballots — in essence, working the AB campaign for someone — who is then an absentee ballot “broker” — or for one or multiple candidates. Most famously, she is linked to Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez — even though he has denied all the obvious connections, rather than sever those connections as he should have done — as well as State Reps. Eddy Gonzalez (hint: He is who I hear is going to be implicated big time by this afternoon) and House seat 103 candidate Manny Diaz, Jr., who is going to be hurt by the fallout. Gonzalez and Diaz, who are working together on their state house campaigns, have endorsed Gimenez and are allies of Hialeah Councilwoman Vivian “I’ll Notarize That” Casals-Muñoz, whose old office is now the Gimenez campaign headquarters in Hialeah, which invited Cabrera to its opening. Casals-Munõz runs the Hialeah office, even though the campaign’s official line is that Al Lorenzo (who is working with Absentee Ballot Queen Sasha Tirador on a couple of judicial races, apparently, and more on that later) and his business partner Francois Illas do, Ladra and many people know that it’s Vivian — though apparently not the SAO, since Casals-Muñoz told me when I ran into her at a coffee shop earlier this week that she had not been called in for questioning (they’re slow, though). She reportedly was the one who hired Cabrera, who was either being followed by her bodyguard/driver Jorge Gonzalez or was called by Cabrera as soon as she got popped (it’s coming, read on).
Rafael Perez with Arnie Alonso, Castro Hernandez's main enforcer, who is now Gimenez campaign man Jesse Manzano's BFF, here during early voting in Hialeah last year
Or maybe it was Rafael Perez — a former candidate for state rep who is now running for committeeman — who dicen las malas lenguas was hired by Casals-Muñoz for the Hialeah street operations. He denies it and says he has offered to help but that nobody has called him. Perez and his dad Modesto Perez — a mean man who calls you obscenities if you disagree with him — own Mr. Cool refrigeration and have been very politically involved for years (read: campaigned against former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez, with whom they have a personal grudge and apparently will make friends with hoodlum Mayor Carlos “Castro” Hernandez in order to hurt). They have also been friends with Cabrera for years. Perez called Ladra the day or two days after she was popped in the street with the ballots in her hot little palm, to tell me that she is not a bad lady and that she was just trying to be helpful. “She just likes Republicans and she always wants to help. She does it for $100 or for a dinner. How sad is it that these little old ladies are involved in the campaign so they can eat?”
Nope. It’s sad that they are exploited by campaign workers so they can eat.
Perez also told me that Gimenez went to him and his dad about two months ago, seeking their support, which they gladly gave. They also offered to have a breakfast for him, inviting members of the father’s business and neighborhood association. Perez has talked to everyone, he said, even campaign manager Jesse Manzano, repeatedly about setting a date. “Now that this happened, I bet you we’re never going to have that breakfast.”
Yep. That’s a good bet.
Perez also told me that he spoke to Matilde’s son about the incident, offering his support. “I’m not involved,” he said. He had told me — before he went on the radio in Spanish to do damage control — that he did not want to be quoted in the blog so he could keep providing me “context”. But, more likely, he does not want to be connected because he is running for committeeman after all (vote against him people) and does not how deep in it he already was.
Yep, you are involved. Keep your context, Ralph.
Vivian Casals-Muñoz and Rudy Garcia during early voting in Hialeah last October.
I hope the state attorney’s office is calling him in. They also need to talk to Casals-Muñoz and her silver-haired driver/bodyguard Big Jorge “El Canoso” Gonzalez (from the former State Sen. Rudy Garcia Hialeah mayoral campaign, in which Perez was also involved) who told me he took Cabrera some soup and a pan con bistec on Wednesday night when she was holed up in her house after being scared by the cops earlier in the day.
More interestingly, he told Ladra he saw the police stop because he just happened to come across the intersection in his truck as it was occurring. He told me this sorta innocently because what he really wanted to express was his outrage.
“What they did to her, they didn’t have to do that! Five police cars in the middle of the street,” he told me after I ran into him and Casals-Muñoz at the Starbuck’s on 49th Street and 4th Avenue Tuesday evening. Sometimes, I am just lucky that way. The two are always together and, in fact, Ladra suspects Casals-Muñoz may have also been in the truck when Gonzalez just happened to come across the intersection where public corruption detectives stopped the women.
More likely, they were already following behind — these operations usually work with tag teams — or Cabrera called them on her cellphone when she got popped. Ka-ching! Connection to the “brokers” right there in cellphone records. Law enforcement can subpoena phone records. Bank records, too. Ladra hopes they did that already.
Them again. Both have connections to la boletera.
Ladra can hear the dominos falling, can’t you? And I hope it happens sooner rather than later.
Cabrera, now that she is facing the felony of forgery, will likely implicate those candidates and/or campaign strategists who she had to have been working for because there is no way that woman does it — that is hard work, valuable work — out of the kindness of her Catholic heart.
We need to know who was involved and to what extent before Aug. 14. Any effort to keep it under wraps until after that so it won’t affect the election is counterproductive. It will affect the election anyway. Right now, it will affect it with suppositions and theories — as intelligent and obvious as they may be. If law enforcement and prosecutors with the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office put out everything they know, if we prioritize this — and it’s easy to follow up and talk to the voters that these women shafted, as the reporters have shown — and get to the bottom of it, then we can vote Aug. 14 with full knowledge and real information, instead of rumors and he said, she said.
is Cabrera can and does implicate candidates and campaign strategists who she had to have worked for because there is no way that woman does it out of the kindness of her Catholic heart.
Now that there’s a forgery — and this is the kind of thing that has been happening for years — how many of the nearly 50,000 ABs that have been returned to the elections department already are compromised? Ladra says we need to throw them all out and count only on the early voting and Election Day ballots.
Only then, can we be guaranteed that the results are not like that one ballot — a forgery.