Massachusetts AG: Harvard grad, former town accountant stole more than $729,000 from various cities

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BOSTON, MA – WCVB 5abc reported that The Attorney General’s Office and Attorney General Maura Healey reported the accusation of theft and fraud by Justin Cole on Tuesday, July 7.

Cole is 38 years old and a graduate of Harvard.

Police say he stole money from the town of Uxbridge over a period of five years, 2012-2017. During this time, he was the town’s accountant. They are also accusing Cole of defrauding the towns of Monterey and Millville after leaving employment in Uxbridge.  

Cole was indicted for stealing over $729,000 from various cities.

Prosecutors said Cole tendered and approved several false invoices causing Uxbridge to pay for services that were never provided.

Investigators said Cole used his Bay State Municipal Accounting Group, Inc. to defraud the town of Uxbridge and that he used funds from Uxbridge to pay his company’s rent and fraudulently billed software and equipment costs made by BMAG to Uxbridge.

Bay State Municipal Accounting Group, Inc. was founded in 2009 by municipal employees.

The company prides itself on knowing what financial services and solutions are needed for the town. They are a company based out of Maynard, MA.

The company provides services from accounting to software implementation to financial management and training. Their passion really is ‘crunching numbers’.

In July of 2017, Cole resigned as full-time accountant from Uxbridge. Shortly after he was accused of defrauding Monterey and Millville through his Bay State Municipal Accounting Group, Inc. Cole used his position to steal other funds from the two towns through fraudulent billing and misinforming executives about city loan applications.

The Attorney General’s Office accuses Cole of stealing a total of $729,531. He stole $657,334 from Uxbridge and $47,600 from Millville (Worcester County), and $24,597 from Monterey (Berkshire County).

Cole was indicted by a state-wide grand jury on several charges. Those charges consisted of five counts of larceny over $250; two counts of larceny of $1,200; four counts of false claims; four counts of securing and unwarranted privilege; and one count of unlawful financial interest of a public employee.

Later in the month, he will be arraigned for Worcester Superior Court and in Berkshire Superior Court. The Attorney General’s Office said:

“The Massachusetts Department of Revenue’s Division of Local Services, the Office of the Inspector General and the towns of Uxbridge, Millville and Monterey provided critical assistance to the investigation.

The AG’s Office, Senior Trial Counselor Edward Beagan and Chief Trial Counsel Jim O’Brien are handling the case. Both are from the AG’s White Collar and Public Integrity Division.

They are working with Investigators Logan Davis, Jonathan Pitts and Ryan Miller of the Inspector General’s Office. The Massachusetts Department of Revenue’s Division of Local Services, the IG’s Office, and the towns of Uxbridge, Millville, and Monterey provided critical assistance to the investigation as well.

Cole wrote in an email to the towns of Ashburnham, Hadley, Hatfield, Millville, Monterey, and Warwick:

“It was a difficult decision to move in this direction, but I have been struggling with some health issues for a while now, and it would be disingenuous for us to provide anything less than the best possible service to our client municipalities.”

Cole wrote the email wrote the email back in October 2019 giving those municipalities (clients) the required 90 days’ notice. The company would cease services on December 31, 2019. Jonathon Cole told MASS LIVE he was dealing with health issues and closing his company.

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State Attorney General: City council vice president, three others charged with voting fraud in May special election

PATERSON, NJ- The President has been warning about it… and many are denying it’s “a thing”.  So welcome to the latest example of voter fraud.

United States President Donald Trump issued a warning concerning mail in voting being a way to introduce voter fraud if expanded.  He recently tweeted:

“RIGGED 2020 ELECTION: MILLIONS OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS WILL BE PRINTED BY FOREIGN COUNTRIES, AND OTHERS. IT WILL BE THE SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES!” 

Attorney General William Barr told Fox News that voting by mail “absolutely opens the floodgates to fraud.”

Barr stated:

“Right now, a foreign country could print up tens of thousands of counterfeit ballots, and it’d be very hard for us to detect which was the right and which was the wrong ballot. So, I think it can — it can upset and undercut the confidence in the integrity of our elections. If anything, we should tighten them up right now.” 

These reports were taken as a conspiracy theory, something that cannot happen in the United States. 

One ‘expert,’ Lawrence Norden, who is he director for the Election Reform Program for the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York School of Law, stated that his belief that this type of voter fraud was “nonsense.”    

Yet, in Paterson, New Jersey, elections were held strictly through mail in ballots due to the Covid 19 pandemic. 

As a result, it is suspected that fraud was done and made easier due to people being forced to use mail in ballots.  Perhaps not a foreign entity, but, fraud, nonetheless.  Two of the people charged in the case are the winners of the election. 

The four men arrested Thursday in the alleged voter fraud scheme in Pateron. Left to right from top left: Shelim Khalique, Councilman Michael Jackson, Councilman-elect Alex Mendez, and Abu Kazyen. (Courtesy: New Jersey Attorney General's Office)
The four men arrested Thursday in the alleged voter fraud scheme in Pateron. Left to right from top left: Shelim Khalique, Councilman Michael Jackson, Councilman-elect Alex Mendez, and Abu Kazyen. (Courtesy: New Jersey Attorney General’s Office)

Four people were charged with voter mail fraud, among them were Councilman Michael Jackson and Councilman-Elect Alex Mendez. 

The criminal investigation started when the United States Postal Inspection Service reported hundreds of mail-in ballots being in the mailbox in the area which is something out of the ordinary if mailed normally. 

It is alleged that all four persons involved in this scheme unlawfully collected the ballots, potentially changed the votes, and turned them into the post office. 

Councilman-Elect Mendez has been charged with second-degree election fraud amongst five other crimes. 

It is alleged that Mendez handled one or more applications which he knew or should have known “false, fictitious, or fraudulent, in that he knew the person for whom the application was procured was not eligible to vote in the election district identified on the application,” according to authorities.

According to New Jersey State Attorney General, Gurbir Grewal:

“Today’s charges send a clear message: if you try to tamper with an election in New Jersey, we will find you and we will hold you accountable.  We will not allow a small number of criminals to undermine the public’s confidence in our democratic process.” 

The charges against all of those involved come from a state investigation into the elections in Paterson.  The investigation into this election was known by some in the political realm after there were allegations, apparently for good reason, of fraud during the vote by mail process. 

Investigators advise that this criminal case is still ongoing. 

There are other candidates in this election which have accused others of stealing their votes or implying in some manner that fraud has happened which has caused them to lose the election.  It is unclear if any others in this probe will be criminally charged. 

It turns out that President Trump’s concern of voter fraud, at least in this instance, may be correct.  It did not take much for those involved to, at minimum, take the ballots from those who were participating in the election.  Whether the votes were actually changed or not, that is up to a jury to decide. 

Mail-in voting seems to always guarantee one thing: missing or undeliverable ballots.

According to reports detailed by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the last four election cycles from 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018 has seen over 28 million mail-in ballots go missing in one way or another.

When looking at 2012, there was slightly over 33 million ballots sent out via mail. Of those shot out, over 3.7 million of them came back as “Status Unknown” according to the 2012 report.

That’s not including the over 425,000 that came back as “Undeliverable.” Every one of those ballots that goes missing or undelivered can be exploited for fraudulent voting.

A million missing ballots is a million opportunities for foul play.

So, one would be hardly surprised that 2014 carried some of the same kind of shenanigans, just with higher “Status Unknown” mail-in ballots. Over 8 million ballots were listed as “Status Unknown,” with over 600,000 ballots being listed as “Undeliverable.”

We reported before on the fiasco that was mail-in voting between 2016 and 2018, which was what brought us up to this near-thirty-million sum of mail-in ballots gone missing. Here’s the 2016 and 2018 details we mentioned earlier in April:

Research shows that between the 2016 and 2018 elections, a healthy amount of mail-in ballots went missing in some way or another.

Over 16 million ballots to be precise, between the two election years.

When reviewing the 2018 midterm elections, approximately 42.4 million ballots were mailed out to registered voters. Out of all those mail-in ballots shot out to voters, about 1 million were “undeliverable,” over 430,000 were listed as “rejected,” and 10.5 million simply went missing.

Each and every time something like that transpires, it can be exploited.

Going back to the infamous 2016 election, roughly 41.6 million ballots were sent out to registered voters. In that instance, about 320,000 were “rejected,” over 568,000 mail-in ballots were described as “undeliverable,” and nearly 6 million ballots went missing overall.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation conducted the immense study pertaining to mail-in ballots, exposing the obvious flaws that exist on the smaller scale versus what’s being suggested by Democrats today.

J. Christian Adams, who serves as the president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, stated the following about the findings:

“These represent 16 million opportunities for someone to cheat. Absentee ballot fraud is the most common; the most expensive to investigate; and can never be reversed after an election. The status quo was already bad for mail balloting. The proposed emergency fix is worse.”

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The logic presented by Adams is spot on. If the current system of mail-in ballots shows already creates easy exploits for voter fraud, expanding the system only expands the gaps and vulnerabilities.

Certain areas during the 2018 midterms were hit harder than other for missing ballots. For instance, various counties in California saw over 3 million missing ballots in 2018, with 1.4 million of those intended only for Los Angeles, California.

Also, Maricopa County, Arizona had over 400,000 missing ballots in 2018; as well as King County, Washington losing around 353,000 in 2018.

That a lot of room for fraud to occur.

We even have a recent example stemming from Wisconsin, where hundreds of absentee ballots simply went undelivered. Then, they were magically discovered after local voting deadlines had passed.

Republican Sen. Dan Feyen commented on the situation with missing absentee ballots in the state:

“I learned today that the (Wisconsin Elections Commission) received a call from a postal service worker informing them 3 large tubs of absentee ballots from Oshkosh and Appleton, were just located.”

Meagan Wolfe, an administrator for the WEC, said she was communicating with the U.S. Postal Service about what might have gone wrong. So far, she hasn’t gotten any suitable response to satisfy ongoing inquiries:

“We don’t have answers on that at this point.”

But sure, mail-in voting would be perfectly fine for the national election later this year.

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