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New York real estate developer admits to interfering with local elections

Attempted to sway election with fake voters to advance construction projects

A New York real estate developer admitted that he meddled in a local election, including using fake voters, all to advance stalled construction projects, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said this week.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, Kenneth Nakdimen pleaded guilty to conspiracy to corrupt the electoral process, in connection with a mayoral election in Bloomingburg, New York.

Per court documents, Nakdimen and others started trying to develop real estate in the Bloomingburg area in 2006.

The developers were expecting to make “hundreds of millions of dollars” from the developments, but by 2013, the first of the real estate developments had been slowed by local opposition, and still remained under construction and “uninhabitable,” court documents said.

But instead of trying to advance their real estate development project through “legitimate means,” Nakdimen and others pursued a different path – corrupting the electoral process in Bloomingburg by falsely registering voters and paying bribes to voters who would help elect public officials that were favorable to their project.

Specifically, Nakdimen and others tried to influence a March 2014 mayoral election and other local officials.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Nakdimen, his co-conspirators, and people working on their behalf, developed and worked on a plan to falsely register people to vote in Bloomingburg even though they were not eligible to vote in the local election because they actually lived elsewhere.  

“Those people included some who never intended to live in Bloomingburg, some who had never kept a home in Bloomingburg, and indeed, some who had never set foot in Bloomingburg in their lives,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

According to court documents, Nakdimen and others “took steps” to cover up the voter registration scheme by creating and backdating false leases and placing items like toothbrushes and toothpaste in unoccupied apartments to make it appear that the falsely registered voters lived there, among other things.

Court documents also showed that Nakdimen and others bribed potential voters by offering payments, subsidies, and other things to get the non-residents to register unlawfully and vote there.

“Fair elections are the bedrock of democracy,” Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said. “As he has now admitted, Kenneth Nakdimen devised a scheme to advance his real estate project by falsely registering voters and corrupting this sacred process. We will not allow greed to influence elections at any level.”

Nakdimen pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to corrupt the electoral process, and is facing a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Nakdimen’s sentencing is schedule for Sept. 9, 2017.

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