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Nov 28, 2018 7:50 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

UPDATE: Amos Goodman Arraigned On 20 Felony Counts Over East Hampton Election Petitions

Amos Goodman walks out of a courtroom in Central Islip on Wednesday, December 5, with his attorney, Craig Fleischer of the Hauppauge-based law firm of Keahon, Fleischer and Ferrante, after being arraigned on 20 felony counts, and released on his own recognizance. GREG WEHNER
Dec 5, 2018 3:58 PM

UPDATE: Wednesday, 12:02 p.m.

Amos Goodman was released from a Suffolk County courtroom in Central Islip on his own recognizance after being arraigned on 20 felony counts on Wednesday morning.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Mr. Goodman’s attorney, Craig Fleischer, told Judge Gaetan B. Lozito that his client does not have any prior criminal convictions, is a Suffolk County resident and voluntarily surrendered himself to the district attorney’s office, which in turn, resulted in Mr. Goodman’s release.

When Mr. Fleischer exited the courtroom with his client, he said very little.

“The district attorney’s office, the investigators and the assigned assistant Kevin Ward have been very respectful to Mr. Goodman,” he said, while declining to answer further questions.

Mr. Goodman remained silent. He is expected to be back in court on February 6.

UPDATE: Tuesday, 11:30 p.m.

Former East Hampton Republican Party Chairman Amos Goodman is expected to surrender in the presence of his attorney in Suffolk County Court in Central Islip on Wednesday morning to face 20 felony charges related to the forgery of at least 43 signatures on nominating petitons submitted to the Suffolk County Board of Elections last summer, according to a statement released tonight by Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini's office.

He will be charged with 10 counts each of criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree, all low level felonies.

The forgeries were identified by investigators on petitions for the Independence Party and Republican Party in East Hampton Town and for a Green Party judicial candidate in a county-wide race. As a notary public, Mr. Goodman was able to submit petitions, without a second witness, for a party he is not a registered member of. Mr. Goodman had submitted more than half of the signatures on the nominating petitions for Republican candidate Manny Vilar in last month's special election for a single Town Board seat. He had also submitted petitions nominating Lisa Larsen as a candidate for the seat on the Independence Party line and then challenged the petitions filed by Independence Party leaders nominating David Gruber. Mr. Goodman is said to have been trying to force a primary for the party line and to then have Mr. Vilar substituted for Ms. Larsen, who declined the nomination.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr. Sini's office also filed eight felonies against Ms. Mansir, four each for criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree.

She was arraigned in Suffolk County Criminal Court in Central Islip on Tuesday morning and released on her own recognizance. Through an attorney, Carl Irace, she has said she is innocent of the charges.

As part of the sweeping investigation of fraudulent activity in the run-up to last month's elections, the DA's office also arrested two Suffolk County Board of Elections employees from North Fork towns on Tuesday. The two men—Gregory Dickerson of Mattituck and William Mann of Cutchogue—were charged with multiple felonies for forging several signatures on documents nominating candidates to the Green Party line in races for county judge seats.

ORIGINAL STORY:

Former East Hampton Town Councilwoman Pat Mansir was arrested by investigators from the Suffolk County district attorney’s office on Tuesday morning and charged with multiple felony counts, stemming from her submission of election petitions for the Independence Party last summer that may have contained fraudulent signatures.

Investigators also are said to be seeking to charge Amos Goodman, who resigned as the East Hampton Republican Party chairman last week, in connection with the same investigation into the town election campaign, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said that District Attorney Tim Sini’s office also has arrested two other as-yet-unidentified individuals in connection with another unrelated elections fraud investigation.

Ms. Mansir, who did not return a call seeking comment on Tuesday night, was the vice chairwoman of the East Hampton Independence Party until late last summer, when she stepped down amid the swirling accusations of forgeries on the party petitions. She has previously denied having forged any signatures.

On Tuesday evening her attorney, Carl Irace, said that Ms. Mansir would stand by her claims of innocence.

"My client denies the allegations and looks forward to being proven innocent," Mr. Irace said. "She never should have been put in a position to have to defend her good name."

In August a State Supreme Court judge ruled that at least a dozen signatures on the petitions she witnessed and submitted could not have been the genuine signatures of the voters they purported to be from, based on comparisons with Suffolk County Board of Elections signature records.

It was Mr. Goodman himself who shed light on the alleged forgeries when he hired a private investigator to get affidavits from eight registered Independence Party voters who say they did not sign petitions submitted by Ms. Mansir with their names on them.

Candidate petitions are rarely scrutinized since the two major parties have an unwritten agreement to not challenge each other’s petitions. But after Mr. Goodman called attention to the apparent malfeasance on Ms. Mansir’s petitions, Independence Party Chairwoman Elaine Jones turned the spotlight to Mr. Goodman’s petition sheets, saying that dozens of them appeared to be forged as well.

Shortly after the November 6 election, investigators from Mr. Sini’s Public Integrity Bureau began knocking on doors in East Hampton to speak with apparent signatories of various town petitions.

Mr. Goodman resigned as the Republican Party chairman early last week, after a little more than nine months in the role. Members of the party’s executive committee had written a letter earlier this month to Mr. Goodman asking him to step down.

The party’s secretary, Kyle Ballou, said that the party is likely not to take up the matter of finding a new chairman until January. He had recently described Mr. Goodman’s behavior as becoming “beyond erratic,” and said that he had effectively vanished about two weeks before the November 6 election.

Reached by telephone on Tuesday, Mr. Goodman declined to comment on Tuesday’s developments in the investigation. He said he was not in East Hampton at the time.

In an exchange last week, he denied that the investigation of the petitions played any role in his resignation and said that he thinks that if he’d chosen to stay on as the party chairman he would have had the support of the party committee, despite the sentiment of the other three members of the executive committee who called for his resignation last week.

“I tendered my resignation because ‘the thrill is gone,’ as B.B. King would say,” Mr. Goodman said in an email last week. “Nobody forced me out, and I am confident that I could have kept the position had I wanted to. I just don’t see a path to victory. And in the end of the day, the idea of fighting to keep a notional figurehead position that’s really a rather thankless job just didn’t appeal to me.”

Mr. Goodman was chosen to lead the party in February of this year after its sweeping losses in last year’s elections. But after embarking on an eyebrow-raising crusade to keep a minor party line off the ballot—at the expense of a major portion of the party’s campaign funds—only to see the Republican candidate, Manny Vilar, get less than one-third of votes, his tenure had exhausted patience with his ideas among the party’s other leaders.

Mr. Goodman said he was deflated by what he said seemed to be a resistance among the GOP rank-and-file to take a politically radical approach in the next election cycle, such as trying to tap the votes of Democrats dissatisfied with the current Town Board and post a hybrid slate that might pull votes from both of the major parties and the Independence line.

Mr. Goodman also reiterated that he would cooperate with anything the DA’s office investigators asked of him, and that he thinks the accounts of the investigators’ inquiries have been exaggerated “partly out of incompetence and partly to undermine me and settle scores.”

“My resigning is in no way an admission that I did anything improper,” he added. “I am confident that the ultimate conclusion will be that there was no willful misconduct by anyone associated with the committee, myself included.”

Ms. Jones, the Independence Party chairwoman, said this week that she was interviewed by the investigators from the district attorney’s office earlier this month and advised them to look at petitions that Mr. Goodman circulated nominating Lisa Larsen to be a candidate for the Independence Party as well.

“I told them I was going to get affidavits from the Independence people on those petitions, and they told me not to bother—they’d take care of it all,” Ms. Jones said on Wednesday. “So I do believe they are investigating those petitions, too. And if he forged those signatures, as a notary, he should lose that. A notary is an oath.”

State elections rules dictate that a person may collect petition signatures for a party that they are not a registered member of only if they are in the presence of a notary public, who witnesses the signatures. As a notary himself, Mr. Goodman would have been allowed to collect signatures for the Independence Party by himself.

The National Notary Association describes the role of a notary public as an “official of integrity” who serves “as an impartial witness in performing a variety of official fraud-deterrent acts related to the signing of important documents.”

Mr. Goodman angered Ms. Jones early in this year’s campaign when he accused the Independence Party vice chairwoman, Patricia Mansir, a former Town Board member, of having forged signatures on the petitions she submitted to nominate David Gruber to be the Independence candidate in the election.

According to state campaign finance disclosures thus far, Mr. Goodman spent more than $4,000 of the party’s small campaign kitty—the party had just over $14,000 in its campaign fund when the race got rolling—on the fight to derail the Independence Party’s candidate. The money went to attorney Guy Parisi, who handled the court challenge to the petitions, and to reimburse Don Cirillo for expenses he funded personally, which Mr. Goodman said he thinks was to pay a process server.

Mr. Goodman said on Wednesday that future disclosures will show “a few” thousand additional dollars spent to hire a private investigator to collect affidavits from several Independence voters attesting that their purported signatures on Ms. Mansir’s petitions were not genuine.

Whatever the ultimate cost, the effort succeeded—Ms. Mansir’s signatures were thrown out when a State Supreme Court judge ruled that the signatures were not those of the voters they appeared to belong to, and Mr. Gruber’s name was removed from the ballot.

The court did not explore whether Ms. Mansir should be charged with fraud for the disqualified signatures.

Many political veterans marveled at Mr. Goodman’s aggressive attack on the minor party petitions as being an odd move, partly because it served only to do away with the potential for a three-way race that could have weakened the heavily favored Democratic candidate, Councilman David Lys, but also because it shed light on his own petition filings, which otherwise would have gone unnoticed.

“Why would he not want a chance to split the Democratic vote?” Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc observed this week. The major political parties have an unwritten agreement not to challenge each others’ petitions. But by challenging the Independence petitions by spotlighting potential criminality—a point that Mr. Goodman himself highlighted at the time—he put the focus on the entire petition-gathering process and, ultimately, on his own.

Mr. Gruber himself wondered at the approach over the summer and observed that in taking on Ms. Jones, Mr. Goodman may have only “caught the tiger by the tail.”

Ms. Jones said that the challenge appeared to have been part of a strategy Mr. Goodman had come up with to get Mr. Vilar on the Independence line when Ms. Larsen declined. She said Mr. Goodman had offered to drop his challenge to the petitions if the Independence leadership agreed to support allowing Mr. Vilar’s name to be included in a primary for that party’s line on the ballot.

Mr. Goodman has denied he made any such offer.

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'MISSION ACCOMPLISHED' time...:)
By V.Tomanoku (677), southampton on Nov 28, 18 11:55 PM
There is a East Hampton GOP?
By Preliator Lives (324), Obamavillie on Nov 29, 18 6:55 AM
1 member liked this comment
Mr. Goodman's exact words were, "if Frank McKay will sign a Wilson Pikula for Manny Vilar to run on the Independence Line I will not challenge your petitions."
Mr. Goodman seems to have a problem with the truth. Hopefully he will not be notarizing any more signatures,

Elaine Jones
By housewife (75), east hampton on Dec 1, 18 1:25 AM
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
By V.Tomanoku (677), southampton on Dec 4, 18 7:15 PM
THIS is what election fraud looks like, Mr. Trump. Not illegal aliens, not Soros funded plots to flip districts. Nope, just individuals with money and connections who think they’re above the law. Hilarious considering everyone from here to Kazakhstan knew the Eh GOP had no chance...
By Brandon Quinn (164), Hampton Bays on Dec 5, 18 1:03 AM
Oh he just didn't want the job anymore
By Pacman (212), Southampton on Dec 5, 18 9:13 AM
Didn't Mansir not show up for court after being called?????
By knitter (1537), Southampton on Dec 5, 18 11:00 AM
No one's election to office is worth cheating to win. This is such an idiot's folly, as to be almost unimaginable. This man needs to be punished lest no one learns by his actions or thinks they can get away with cheating the voters of a fairly and legally presented candidate for election. If you can't follow the law leading up to an election, how on earth would we expect you to honor your oath to uphold the law after your election. "Go directly to jail".
By Dodger (156), Southampton Village on Dec 5, 18 12:42 PM
1 member liked this comment
Looks like the GOP's claims of "voter fraud" are a serious, clinical case of psychological projection.
By Mr. Z (10707), North Sea on Dec 5, 18 6:21 PM
You mean the claims were true.
By themarlinspike (77), southampton on Dec 5, 18 7:27 PM
Yes! Republicans commit voter fraud. That's not news though.
By harbor (376), East Hampton on Dec 5, 18 8:23 PM
G.O.P.: Gerrymander - Obstruct - Project
By Pacman (212), Southampton on Dec 7, 18 9:54 AM
2 members liked this comment
Reporters head line seems biased. Shouldn't it read four people indicted on fraud charges? Most the article was about Goodman, with one paragraph about the others.
I am registered in a party, buy I vote for the person that will do the best job, not party lines.
By knitter (1537), Southampton on Dec 7, 18 3:02 PM
well put knitter!
By bigfresh (3909), north sea on Dec 7, 18 3:15 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Lets go mets (337), Southampton on Dec 7, 18 3:36 PM
In other news $25,000 bail for dog murderer but only $5,000 for the heroin delivery boy riding around in a chief’s truck. What the heck is going on with these judges?
By icecreamman (415), Southampton on Dec 9, 18 8:20 AM
1 member liked this comment
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