BY DYLAN SKRILOFF
It’s been said a grand jury would indict a ham sandwich if a prosecutor led them that way, but apparently whatever evidence the DA has on Legislator Frank Sparaco so far is not enough to inspire his confidence in the case.
At pre-trial hearings this week the Rockland DA’s Office asked for two more months to investigate before bringing the case to a grand jury. Zugibe has not been forthcoming with the media about what evidence he has and now it appears he doesn’t have much. Typically, when politicians are arrested prosecutors are more forthcoming, for obvious reasons.
Sparaco is charged with felonies for allegedly recruiting two persons to volunteer as GOP committeemen listing their work address at Brega headquarters in Valley Cottage, when Sparaco allegedly knew they lived elsewhere. Their ballots were ultimately disqualified by the Board of Elections. Sparaco also is charged with a misdemeanor for supposedly inviting his cousins to live with him part-time for the sole purpose of registering them to vote in Clarkstown.
New York and United States election law is rather liberal when it comes to choosing addresses for voter registration and there is not much precedent for making a criminal case similar to what Sparaco is now dealing with, so it will be interesting to see what Zugibe comes up with, if he even makes it to trial.
Typically, disputes over addresses are settled by the Board of Elections and playing games with voting addresses is something of a New York pastime, so what did Sparaco do that went above and beyond?
Let’s take a look at election law pertaining to addresses and how some prominent Rocklanders have played the voter registration game.
– None other than Rockland County Board of Elections Commissioner Kristen Stavisky’s own husband Evan Stavisky is registered to vote through a Queens apartment. He is, in fact, a district leader in the Queens Democratic Party, while living primarily in Rockland County. Though the practice is generally frowned upon, courts have ruled that it’s legal.
– One village mayor is reputed by both Republican and Democratic sources to live primarily in Greenwood Lake, while listing a family member’s Rockland address as their residence for political purposes.
– When Bronx GOP Chairman Jay Savino was arrested on felony corruption charges, he was not arrested for living in Rockland County while being registered in the Bronx.
And in the famous “park bench” case, a federal Ohio judge ruled in 2008 that homeless persons can register to vote listing a park bench as their address.
So, you can have an apartment or a park bench and list that as your voting address, which is what Sparaco thought he was doing when he registered his cousins to vote at his home, but what about work addresses, is there any precedent for arresting people for registering to vote at their work address? Or handing in a petition of someone who did so, which is all Sparaco has been charged with?
While it may or may not be legal to register to vote at your office, one thing for certain is that it’s not an uncommon practice. None other than one of Sparaco’s arch-enemies, Peter “Clem” Clemente, was registered to vote for a decade out of a business address at 57 Lake Rd., Congers.
If one surveyed all of Rockland County, there likely would be hundreds of such instances uncovered. The truth is such matters are typically settled at the Board of Elections level, as they well should be.
We await a case from Zugibe, so far all we have are charges that don’t match legal precedent.