A Yale senior was arrested in late October and charged with nine counts of ballot fraud, city sources said Sunday.
Michael Montano ’03, former campaign manager for Ward 16 Democratic Town Committee co-chair candidates Magda Natal and Denise Maldonado, is charged with falsely affirming that he aided nine Fair Haven voters in completing applications for absentee ballots in the March election. Montano allegedly completed the portion of the application that is to be signed by “any person who assists another person in completion of this application — under penalties of false statement in absentee balloting.”
Montano faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000.
Also arrested in connection with the probe was New Haven resident Angelo Reyes, 37.
The Office of the Chief State’s Attorney alleged that Montano did not assist the voters in completing the applications yet penned his name attesting that he did.
Montano declined to comment, citing advice from his lawyer.
The application form in question requires a voter to give his or her name, address, date of birth, and the reason he is she is unable to appear at the polling place on the election day. It further requires that the voter and any other person assisting the voter in completing the application sign the document under penalties of false statement.
Montano allegedly signed nine forms without actually helping the voters.
The probe, which began shortly after the March elections, was conducted by the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney, the state Elections Enforcement Commission and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and culminated in late October with Montano’s arrest.
Friends of Montano were quick to defend him against the charges.
“Michael Montano is one of the most ethical, law-abiding people I know,” said Shonu Gandhi ’03, co-chair of the Ward 1 Democratic Town Committee. “I know this is completely bogus — the worst kind of perversion of justice.”
Gandhi is a staff columnist for the Yale Daily News.
Gandhi worked with Montano on past campaigns, including the one which resulted in the current charges.
“Michael’s a real grass-roots progressive working to make this town better. I think it’s inexcusable how an honest mistake on his part is being exploited for political gains,” Ward 1 Alderman Ben Healey ’04 said. “I support him fully and believe that he has the best interests of the people of New Haven at heart.”
Montano appeared in court Friday and awaits another hearing.