By Marianela Toledo | Florida Watchdog
MIAMI — Federal prosecutors and the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association are on the lookout for suspected voter fraud in the wake of an absentee-ballot scandal that rocked South Florida in 2013.
REWARD: Know about voter fraud in South Florida? A tip to the PBA could get you a $10,000 reward.
The PBA is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of someone involved in voter fraud and is assigning investigators to look into allegations of fraud.
Ever since the reward program was announced earlier this year, the number of absentee ballot requests has declined, said John Rivera, president of the Miami-Dade Police Benevolence Associations.
“Right now we are focused on Hialeah and the Miami Lakes area, where we have received a lot of calls,” Rivera said.
The program is a result of a tumultuous 2013 campaign season that landed several people in legal hot water.
“We decided to do this because absentee ballot fraud has been in this community for years and nothing has happened,” Blanca Torrents Greenwood, the PBA’s executive director, told Florida Watchdog in August. “We thought, let’s do this to see if we get results.”
Florida Watchdog earlier reported that Jeffrey Garcia, former chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, was arrested in 2013 after requesting hundreds of absentee ballots on behalf of voters without their permission. He pleaded guilty, spent 90 days in jail and got 18 months of probation.
Former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina’s uncle, Sergio Robaina, was charged with two felony counts of tampering with ballots. He was sentenced to a year of probation.
Deisy Cabrera pleaded guilty to charges of being an absentee ballot broker in a voter fraud scheme. She also was sentenced to one year of probation.
Federal prosecutors announced Friday it would join a campaign to prevent voter fraud.
“Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination and to have that vote counted without it being stolen because of fraud,” Wifredo Ferrer, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, said in a statement. ”The Department of Justice will act promptly and aggressively to protect the integrity of the election process.”
Tipsters can call the fraud tipline at 1-800-253-3931.