The perennial candidate's desperation leads to demise when the Bichotte campaign contested his fraudulent signatures
Farah Louis, Special to The Haitian Times
BROOKLYN, NY — On Tuesday, 42nd Assembly hopeful Zachary Lareche withdrew his candidacy from the State Assembly race due to alleged fraudulent signatures he submitted to the board of elections to get on the ballot. This has been Lareche’s third failed attempt to win the State
The 42nd Assembly Female District Leader Rodneyse Bichotte — currently candidate for the Assembly seat — and her running mate Josue Pierre (candidate for the Male District Leader seat) initiated legal proceedings against petitions submitted by the Lareche campaign.
In order to become eligible for the ballot, each candidate must obtain and present a minimum of 500 valid signatures to the board of elections. Lareche submitted approximately 1,218 signatures to the board of elections – 717 were initially deemed valid. The Bichotte and Pierre camp enlisted a handwriting expert to conduct a thorough review and verify suspicions of forged signatures. Jeffrey Luber, a board certified forensic document examiner employed by the Suffolk County Crime Laboratory, produced a twenty page report outlining more than 100 fraudulent signatures which included:
- Different people signing witness statements for the same petitioner
- Board of election cards that did not match signatures obtained by the Lareche team
Many local observers presume that Lareche was planted in the 42nd Assembly District race to take votes away from Bichotte, who poses a real challenge to 34-year incumbent Rhoda Jacobs. If so, Lareche’s plans have failed, and may lead to his own political demise. Team Bichotte-
Pierre upped the ante and pursued a refereed review where the Board of Elections compared voter registration cards to Lareche’s petitions. This resulted in a reduction of Lareche’s valid signatures — of which 619 signatures on voter’s registration cards and petitions were invalid.
Constituents whose names were forged were sought by team Bichotte-Pierre’s attorney and were subpoenaed to court for testimony on Wednesday.
“Its reprehensible people would commit fraud to Board of Elections,” said Aaron Maslow, the attorney representing team Bichotte-Pierre. “The report submitted by the hand writing expert contained at least 100 forgeries. It’s disgraceful that they didn’t drop out earlier but dragged this out, causing Ms. Bichotte and Mr. Pierre to spend thousands of dollars in legal fees and a handwriting expert. I am disappointed Rhoda Jacobs didn’t pursue this election fraud; it took Bichotte to do it and Rhoda stood on the sidelines and did nothing.”
One of the reasons Rhoda Jacobs has retained her seat for 34 years is due to the crowded field of two or more black and Caribbean candidates seeking to unseat the incumbent in the same year. Perennials like Michele Adolphe and Zachary Lareche crowded the field, which many say allowed Ms. Jacobs to win past elections with a landslide. With a less cluttered stage, 42nd District can now witness a fair race between the last two women standing: Bichotte, the Haitian-American who has proven to be a savvy campaigner, and Jacobs, the entrenched incumbent.
The 42nd Assembly District race is in full force and Bichotte has proven there is no room in politics for the faint of heart.
“It’s time Haitians unite behind a real candidate and galvanize the Haitian community to show the world that we need to be respected,” said a Bichotte-Pierre campaign volunteer. “Bichotte is raising the bar for Haitian candidates in politics and is a clear example, that if you want to be a part of this war: come correct or don’t come at all.”
News of Lareche’s withdrawal from the race must loom large in the Rhoda Jacobs camp, as she will now face Rodneyse Bichotte one on one.
Farah Louis is co-founder of BelTiFi and a freelance reporter.