None of the nine people whose ballot applications bear the signature of Michael Montano ’03 actually recognized his name or were able to pick his picture out of a photo array, a signed affidavit states. According to the document, Montano’s signature appeared on the ballots to indicate that he assisted voters in completing the forms.
Montano was arrested Oct. 22 for ballot fraud in a Ward 16 Democratic Town Committee election. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Also arrested in conjunction with the ballot probe was New Haven resident Angelo Reyes, 37, the brother of Denise Maldonado — a candidate for whom Montano campaigned.
The two arrests follow an announcement of a plan to increase the federal government’s monitoring of potential voter fraud throughout Connecticut.
The affidavit, filed in Connecticut Superior Court, shows that six of the voters “had not applied for an absentee ballot nor had they signed the applications.”
Eleuteria Laureano, one of those six voters, said she never voted in her life and is unable to read or write. The affidavit also states that whenever Laureano had to sign a document, she marked it with a cross rather than her name, and had her son witness it.
The affidavit states that Daniel Gonzalez, another one of the voters, was not even eligible to vote in the Ward 16 election. Voter Rosa Gonzalez said she never voted by absentee ballot and moreover did not know what an absentee ballot was, according to the affidavit.
A third voter, Johanna Vasquez, “denied completing the form, signing, or authorizing any other person to sign her name” and “knew no one by the name Michael Montano,” the document said.
Montano could not be reached for comment Monday night and his attorney, Mark Goodman, did not return repeated phone messages.
The document also states that two voters who applied for absentee ballots did not know Michael Montano and could not single out his picture from among a collection of photographs.
Montano allegedly examined the signature on the suspect absentee ballot applications and affirmed that the signature on the ballots was his.
According to the affidavit, when Montano was asked why his signature appeared on applications he did not actually assist voters in completing, Montano said an official in New Haven’s City Clerk’s Office told him that all applications must be signed by someone from the campaign.
Montano could not recall what official gave him these instructions, but described the official as a female of an unknown race, older than 25 years of age, according to the document. None of the female staff in the City Clerk’s Office interviewed by Inspector Thomas Trocchio — one of the officials who signed the affidavit — reported instructing Montano to sign the documents.
The affidavit also states that Ward 1 Democratic Town Committee Co-chair Shonu Gandhi ’03 delivered completed absentee ballot applications to the City Clerk’s office during the 2001 mayoral primary. She said employees of the City Clerk’s Office instructed her to sign the applications in order to determine who delivered the them to the office, the document said. Gandhi allegedly refused to sign the applications because she did not actually assist the applicants and thus would have made a false statement by signing them.
Gandhi is a staff columnist for the Yale Daily News.
Montano appeared in court Friday and awaits another hearing.