ROCKLAND COUNTY, N.Y. -- A Rockland man was among three New York real estate developers who were arrested and charged on Thursday in an alleged scheme to submit false voter registrations in early 2014 to advance real estate projects in Bloomingburg, a village in Sullivan County.
Kenneth Nakdimen, 64, of Monsey was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States -- in particular, to corrupt the electoral process by submitting false voter registrations, buying voter registrations, and offering bribes for voter registrations and votes.
Bloomingburg resident Shalom Lamm, 57, and 28-year-old Volvy Smilowitz, also known as "Zev Smilowitz," of Monroe, were his alleged partners in what U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Preet Bharara characterized as a "cynical ploy" which could land each in prison for up to five years in prison and liable for a $250,000 fine.
Bharara announced the indictment Thursday, joined by William Sweeney Jr., the assistant director-in-charge of the New York Field Office of the FBI.
"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," Bharara said. "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."Court documents stated and alleged the trio sought to build and sell real estate in Bloomingburg, beginning in 2006. But their first development was met with local opposition, and in 2014, it was still under construction and uninhabitable. So they decided to corrupt the democratic electoral process in Bloomingburg by falsely registering voters and paying bribes for voters who would help elect public officials favorable to their project.