A campaign worker for Alex Mendez, the Paterson councilman-elect charged with election fraud, told investigators that she was paid to carry bundles of vote-by-mail ballots eight days before the May 12 election.
Yahaira “YaYa” Mendez says she carried “numerous stacks of ballots over the course of six hours, with each bundle the width of an outstretched hand and carrying two at a time,” according to an investigator hired by William McKoy, the incumbent Menendez unseated in a close election.
McKoy is challenging the results of the election and has asked a judge to stop Paterson from swearing in Mendez to his council seat on July 1.
“She messengered these stacks of ballots from one location to another along Route 20 in Paterson with another individual, although she could not remember their name,” McKoy’s attorney, Scott Salmon, alleged in a new court filing. “In return, Ms. Mendez was paid an indeterminate amount of cash for her services.”
Salmon said that YaYa Mendez’s name is not listed as the bearer of any ballots.
“This raises a seemingly endless stream of questions, chief among them how and why (Mendez’s) campaign had multiple stacks of ballots to be carried at all: where did these ballots come from and where were they going?” Salmon asked. “Ms. Mendez was simply too low on the totem pole to know, and we suspect nobody will ever fully know given the Fifth Amendment rights implicated in answering such questions.”
According to Andrew Scherbak, an investigator working for Salmon, YaYa Mendez said she as hired by Omar Ledesma and agreed to the job to earn extra money for food for her children. Ledesma paid cash, she claimed.
“Mr. Ledesma dropped Ms. Mendez off in Paterson and instructed her to pick up and deliver bundles of ballots from one location to another,” Scherbak stated in an affidavit filed with the court. “Ms. Mendez stated that the bundles were the width of her outstretched hand and she carried a bundle in each hand for each delivery.”
YaYa Mendez could not identify the exact location of the ballot drop, but said it was adjacent to Route 20 in Paterson. She recalled another person doing the same job, according to the court filing.
“What remains abundantly clear is that this was not just one rogue operative, but an organized and concerted effort to steal the election by fraudulently manufacturing ballots cast for Respondent,” said Salmon. “While we are glad this effort was caught by the United States Postal Service and the Board of Election, at least in part, it was certainly not stopped.”
In the court filing, Scherbak says that YaYa Mendez told her she had also been questioned by two individuals who identified themselves as investigators.
It’s not immediately clear if those investigators were also private, or from the state attorney general’s office.