November 18, 2009 | 1302 views
Fraud charges dropped against Browne
Democratic election worker now claims he has no evidence linking candidate to Tax Revolt Party signatures
After filing a lawsuit with the Nassau County District Attorney's office alleging Tax Revolt Party petition fraud against 5th Legislative District Republican candidate Chris Browne in September, Nassau County
Democratic Party officials now say there is no evidence linking Browne to the alleged fraud, and have dropped the charges against him.
"The only thing we told the D.A. was Browne did not have his signature on the fraudulent petition, and while the petitions were clearly a product of fraud, we could not conclusively prove Browne orchestrated them" said Steve Schlesinger, an attorney for the Nassau County Democratic Party, who filed the suit in September on behalf of Democratic election worker Kenneth Dash. "Nothing we said or did diminishes the fact that the petitions were an out-and-out fraud, and it is for the D.A. to determine who is criminally culpable."
County Republicans had withdrawn their petition — which they had filed with the county Board of Elections to secure the Tax Revolt Party line for Browne on Election Day — after county Democrats challenged its validity in court. Democrats alleged that over half of the 1,300 signatures were fraudulent, but Republicans withdrew the petition before anyone was called to testify.
Dash, however, took the allegations a step further, claiming in a Sept. 9 letter to the county D.A. that Browne had directed the individuals collecting signatures for the petition to intentionally garner fraudulent signatures, a fact Browne has repeatedly denied.
In September, both the Democratic and Republican elections commissioners said that Browne could not be held liable for the alleged fraud because he had not signed the petition, but it was not until Nov. 4, just one day after Election Day, that the suit against Browne was withdrawn. When asked of the timing of the withdrawal, Schlesinger said, "The reason [Dash] dropped it was to settle a libel suit brought by Browne. Ken didn't want to spend the resources defending himself against Browne, who was a lawyer representing himself."