Friday, December 16, 2016

Voting Fraud Indictments Are Latest In Battle Over Hasidic Development In NY Town

As reported yesterday by The Forward, since 2012 the village of Bloomingburg, New York has been embroiled in a battle over whether an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community would expand into the town:
To the Orthodox and their allies, resistance to new Jewish neighbors can look like anti-Semitism. To the non-Orthodox, the arrival of a Hasidic community, with its schools and its institutions and its rabbinic authority, can feel like an invasion.
In Bloomingburg, local governments and an Orthodox developer have faced off in court, and in raucous village meetings, amid a volley of accusations of voter fraud and hate crimes.
The Forward article traces what appeared to be the success of Satmar Hasidim in expanding into the village. (See prior Religion Clause postings on Bloomingburg.) However yesterday, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York announced the indictment (full text) of three men on charges of conspiracy to corrupt the electoral process in Bloomingburg in order to obtain clearance to build a housing development for members of the Satmar community:
In pursuit of millions of dollars in profits from a real estate development project, the defendants allegedly hatched a cynical ploy to corrupt the electoral process in Bloomingburg.  As alleged, to get public officials supportive of their development project elected to local government, the defendants concocted a scheme to falsely register voters who did not live in Bloomingburg, including some who had never even set foot there.  And to cover up their voter fraud scheme, the defendants allegedly back-dated fake leases and even placed toothpaste and toothbrushes in empty apartments to make them appear occupied by the falsely registered voters.  Profit-driven corruption of democracy cannot be allowed to stand no matter who does it or where it happens.
One of those indicted was developer Shalom Lamm whose father, Norman Lamm served for many years as president of Yeshiva University. The Forward reports on the indictments.

A fourth man was indicted and has pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to submit false voter registrations. (Full text of Information.)