On Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012, 42nd Assembly hopeful Zachary Lareche withdrew his candidacy from the State Assembly race due to alleged fraudulent signatures he submitted to the board of elections to get on the ballot. This has been Lareche’s third failed attempt to win the State Assembly seat.
The 42nd Assembly Female District Leader Rodneyse Bichotte, currently candidate for the Assembly seat, and her running mate Josue Pierre, candidate for the Male District Leader seat, initiated legal proceedings against petitions submitted by opposing candidate Zachary Lareche. In order to be eligible for the ballot, each candidate must obtain and present a minimum of 500 valid signatures to the board of elections. Lareche submitted approximately 1,218 signatures to the board of elections of which 717 were initially deemed valid. After a thorough review of Lareche’s questionable signatures by Bichotte’s and Pierre’s team, a handwriting expert was brought on-board to verify suspicions of forged signatures. The expert, a board certified forensic document examiner employed by the Suffolk County Crime Laboratory, produced a twenty page document outlining more than 100 fraudulent signatures included:
·Different people signing witness statements for the same petitioner
·Board of election cards did not match signatures obtain by Lareche’s team
Many local observers believe that Lareche was planted in the 42nd Assembly District Race to take votes away from Bichotte who poses a real challenge to 34-year incumbent Rhoda Jacobs. If so, Lareche’s plans have failed and may lead to his own political demise. Team Bichotte- Pierre up the ante and pursued a refereed review where the Board of Elections compared voter registration cards to Lareche’s petitions. This resulted in a reduction of Lareche’s valid signatures of which 619 signatures on voter’s registration cards and petitions were invalid. Constituents whose names were forged were sought by Team Bichotte-Pierre’s attorney and were subpoenaed to court yesterday.
Bichotte’s attorney, Aaron Maslow stated, “Its reprehensible people would commit fraud to Board of Elections. The report submitted by the hand writing expert contained at least 100 forgeries. It’s disgraceful that they didn’t drop out earlier but dragged this out, causing Ms. Bichotte and Mr. Pierre to spend thousands of dollars in legal fees and a handwriting expert. I am disappointed Rhoda Jacobs didn’t pursue this election fraud; it took Bichotte to do it and Rhoda stood on the sidelines and did nothing.”
One of the reasons Rhoda Jacobs has retained her seat for 34 years is due to the crowded field of two or more blacks or Caribbean candidates seeking to unseat the incumbent in the same year. From Michele Adolphe to Zachary Lareche who crowded the ballots, allowing Ms. Jacobs
to win past elections with a landslide. The 42nd district can now see a less cluttered stage and witness a fair race between Bichotte, a Haitian-American and Jacobs, the incumbent.
An unknown source stated, “It’s time Haitians unite behind a real candidate and galvanize the Haitian community to show the world that we need to be respected. Bichotte is raising the bar for Haitian candidates in politics and is a clear example, that if you want to be a part of this war: come correct or don’t come at all.”
The 42nd Assembly race is in full force and Bichotte has proven there is no room in politics for the faint of heart. Constituents are seeking a fair leader who knows how to win big and Bichotte and Pierre may be the candidates. As news of Lareche’s withdrawal from the race must loom large in the Jacobs camp as she will now face Bichotte one on one.