A Hudson Valley man is facing time behind bars after pleading guilty to conspiring to corrupt the electoral process in connection to a New York election.
Orange County resident Volvy “Zev” Smilowitz, 29, has pleaded guilty to “the biggest federal voter fraud cause in the modern era,” according to Geoffrey Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who announced the guilty plea on Tuesday.
According to the indictment that Smilowitz, of Monroe, pleaded guilty to, beginning in 2006, while serving as a consultant, he, Shalom Lamm and Kenneth Nakdimen, real estate developers, sought to build and sell real estate in Bloomingburg. From those real estate development projects, Smilowitz, Lamm, Nakdimen, and others hoped for and anticipated making hundreds of millions of dollars.
However, by 2013, the first of their real estate developments had met local opposition, and still remained under construction and was uninhabitable. When met with resistance, rather than seek to advance their real estate development project through legitimate means, the three instead decided to “corrupt the democratic electoral process in Bloomingburg by falsely registering voters and paying bribes for voters who would help elect public officials favorable to their project.”
Berman specifically pointed to the mayoral election in March 2014, when Smilowitz and his two partners developed and worked on a plan to falsely register numerous people who were not entitled to register and vote in Bloomingburg because they actually lived out of the district, some of whom had never stepped foot in Bloomburg. The group went on to take steps to cover up the scheme by creating back-dating false leases and placing toiletry items in unoccupied apartments to make it appear as if the falsely registered voters lived in the area.
Smilowitz also pleaded guilty to bribing potential voters by offering payments, subsidies and other items of value to get non-residents of Bloomburg to register unlawfully and vote along with Lamm.
Following his guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to corrupt the electoral process, Smilowitz will face up to five years in prison. According to Berman, the maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Smilowitz is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 24. Lamm pleaded guilty in December last year and was sentenced to 10 months in prison. Nakdiman pleaded guilty in June 2017 and received six months in prison.
“In the biggest federal voter fraud case in the modern era, Volvy Smilowitz admitted to taking part in a cynical scheme to rig an election in Bloomingburg,” Berman said in a statement. “There is no place in our democracy for the criminal conduct admitted to by the defendant, which included falsely registering dozens of voters. Those who conspire to corrupt the electoral process must and will be held accountable.”
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