Friday, March 17, 2023

US probing voter fraud accusations at Developers Yosef Horowitz & Wigdor Mendlovic in Fleischmanns in Catskills


Wigdor Mendlovic owns the Palace hotel along with 16 other properties in Fleischmanns.

A tiny Catskills resort town is playing host to a federal probe over voter fraud accusations — even as locals head to the polls next week, The Post has learned.

Residents of Fleischmanns — a century-old “Borscht Belt” village located at the foot of the Belleayre ski resort — claim that a pair of deep-pocketed property moguls have recruited seasonal renters to stuff the ballot box so they can get favorable treatment for their development plans, as The Post previously reported.

Following repeated voter fraud disputes in Delaware County during the past two years, the local sheriff once again is investigating 76 voter registration cards — a big number given the small size of the expected tally — that were submitted during the past month, sources said.

The voter cards in question — on which registrants listed local motels and seasonal vacation homes as their permanent residences — are being challenged at the county board of elections by Fleischmanns resident Todd Pascarella, who is running for a town trustee seat in next week’s election.

“I don’t know where these people really live,” Pascarella told The Post.

“But we have signed affidavits from the owners of two motels attesting to the fact that the addresses [that the voters provided] are not residential properties.”

Like last year, a large number of new voters said they lived at the Valkyrian Motel or the Delaware Court Motel on Main Street in Fleischmanns, which is named for the Fleischmann family that built the baking yeast empire.

Others listed six modest homes that are owned by a religious “schul” representing the Hasidic community that vacations in Fleischmanns during the summer.

“Generally, unless you live in a house that’s winterized and you register your cars here and you have an intent to be here full-time, [I believe] you don’t have a right to vote here,” opined Fleischmanns’ 77-year-old Mayor Winifred Zubin, who is not running for re-election.

The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York is investigating the situation following an initial probe by the New York Attorney General’s Office into why more than 250 voters last year turned out for an election that typically attracts about 30 voters, according to sources.

“The case has been turned over to [the feds] because their jurisdiction is much broader,” Delaware County District Attorney Shawn Smith told The Post. 

The US Postal Inspection Service is also investigating “allegations of possible fraud involving mail-in ballots in Fleischmann, NY,” US Postal inspector Michael Martel told The Post in a statement.

The agency is responsible for ensuring “the safe, secure, and efficient delivery of political mail and election mail” including “balloting materials such as voter registration cards and absentee ballot applications,” Martel added in a statement.

A spokesperson for the US Attorney’s Office declined to comment.

Longtime residents say the incumbent candidates are backed by two powerful property owners in Fleischmanns — Josef Horowitz and Wigdor Mendlovic.

The latter owns about 17 properties in Fleischmanns, including summer rental homes, a motel, a seasonal kosher restaurant and a hotel called The Palace.

Horowitz and Mendlovic did not immediately respond to calls and emails for this story.

Pascarella and two other candidates — Yvonne Reuter and Elizabeth Hughes — are challenging the incumbents for trustee and mayor of Fleischmanns, respectively, as they attempt to stop alleged carpetbaggers from voting on March 21.

Miguel Riddle-Martinez, who previously served on the town’s zoning board, is also running for trustee and is said to have the support of the property moguls.

“Many of the purged voters have re-registered and we must challenge them again,” according to a campaign flyer circulated by Hughes, Pascarella and Reuter.

“Pascarella says current trustees Stewart Cohen and Samuel Gil — the latter owns a gas station and convenience store and is running for mayor — have done little but maintain the status quo, though they are not being accused of any wrongdoing.

“Inaction is certainly their temporary strategy,” but the concern is what will happen if Hughes isn’t elected to succeed Zubin as mayor, according to Pascarella.

“They might start changing the zoning laws,” he said. “Winifred has been the glue that’s held everything together.”

Gil and Cohen did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Hughes unsuccessfully ran for trustee last year.

Her lawsuit challenging the election last year — which alleged that the incumbents recruited summer renters from New Jersey and New York City to illegally vote via absentee ballots — failed largely on a technicality, a judge ruled at the time.

The complaint also claimed that a “religious sect” is trying “take control of the village of Fleischmanns government by fraud.”

In an interview with The Post last year, Mendlovic called the lawsuit “baloney” and said there was no “organized” effort to recruit voters.

“They are making up stories,” he said.

Horowitz didn’t respond for comment.

One of the trustees who was elected to a two-year term in 2022, Aaron Goldring, stated on his voter registration card that he lives in Lakewood, New Jersey.

He attended just six of 20 village board meetings — from May to August — Zubin said.

Goldring did not immediately respond for comment.

Last year, some 63 voters, a major portion of the tally, were purged from the rolls after the Delaware County sheriff found that they listed motels and summer vacation homes — including one that hasn’t had running water for years — as their permanent residences, according to Fleischmanns residents and the Delaware County Board of Elections.

The motel owners — who state in their affidavits that the voters “merely stayed for a few weeks during the summertime” — were happy to set the record straight as they live at their properties full-time “and it’s news to them that they have other people living there,” according to Pascarella.

Part of the problem is that voter registration “is an unmonitored process,” according to Zubin. Voters are not asked to prove their residency until they are challenged.

“We suffer the consequences of this weakness” in the system, she added.


LES AYM said...

What's with frum yidden that keep doing all these type of questionable things. Like they need to give the velt more proof that the stereotype of Jews as shysters is true? Hashem yerachem!

Anonymous said...

We are starting a 'pidyon Shvuyim' fund NOW.