Cudahy officials at the city’s highest levels tampered with and manipulated the results of at least two city elections, according to federal documents released Thursday. The documents were part of the plea agreements of two Cudahy city officials who agreed to plead guilty Thursday to bribery and extortion. But the documents also shed light on a culture of corruption within City Hall, with examples of widespread bribery and developer payoffs to voter fraud. “The very definition of democracy is that all those qualified as voters have the opportunity to cast their votes and to have those votes counted,” Assistant U.S. Atty. Joseph Akrotirianakis said.
Details of the election fraud were spelled out by Angel Perales, the city’s former interim city manager and code enforcement director. Perales and former mayor David Silva have agreed to plead guilty to bribery and extortion. The documents show that a city official identified only as G.P. asked Perales and others to make non-residents register to vote in elections. They used an address that belonged to a Cudahy city employee. In exchange, that employee was rewarded with promotions and other favorable treatment, the documents say. In addition, the city officials tossed out ballots that did not favor incumbents.
Perales said that when absentee ballots were delivered to City Hall, he and G.P. determined through “trial and error” the best way to open the sealed envelopes without defacing them. “Routinely and systematically,” they opened the ballots. If they contained votes in favor of incumbents, they were resealed and counted. Ballots for non-incumbents were discarded. The same process was used during the 2009 election, the documents said. No one has been arrested in connection to the election fraud, but federal authorities issued a search warrant at City Hall recently, demanding all documents related to the 2007 and 2009 elections.