Debra Ortutay, chair of the Rockland County Independence Party, has pled guilty to charges of forgery and perjury pertaining to ballots filled out when her son-in-law Frank Sparaco Jr., ran for Assembly against Kenneth Zebrowski. Sparaco was seeking to gain access to the Independence Party line and amazingly, Ortutay has pled guilty to forging signatures and testifying to their authenticity in court.
Westchester DA Janet DiFiore says Ortutay still faces a maximum of two-and-a-half to seven years in prison. She has not yet indicated whether a plea deal has been worked out.
At the time of the ballot fraud Ortutay was not yet chair of the Independence Party, but was at Sparaco’s encouragement running to unseat longtime party queen Marsha Coopersmith, whom Sparaco accused of running the Independence Party like a “family patronage mill.” Sparaco and his mother-in-law tried to unseat the powers that be partially because they claimed they were forces of corruption in Rockland County, but Ortutay now finds herself in more hot water than Coopersmith ever had.
Rockland DA Thomas Zugibe, who received the Independence line endorsement from Ortutay and the Independence Party this year, requested to be removed from the case and it was handled by Westchester DA Janet DiFiore. This could not have worked out worse for Ortutay, as DiFiore is known to have an axe to grind with the Independence Party.