AG Platkin: Voter Charged with Fraud, Records Tampering Stemming from Mail-in Ballots Cast in May 2020 Paterson City Election, and Providing Misleading Statements to Detectives

For Immediate Release: October 25, 2023

Office of the Attorney General
– Matthew J. Platkin, Attorney General
Office of Public Integrity and Accountability
– Thomas J. Eicher, Executive Director

For Further Information:

Media Inquiries-
Dan Prochilo

TRENTON — Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin today announced the filing of criminal charges against a Paterson voter based on her alleged falsification of a vote-by-mail ballot, the defendant’s subsequent attempts to mislead investigators about that crime, and the defendant’s attempts to mislead investigators about how certain mail-in ballots were cast in the May 2020 Paterson municipal election.

Ninoska Adames, 33, of Paterson, New Jersey, has been charged with tampering with public records, fraud in casting a mail-in vote, and other offenses, after she allegedly fraudulently completed a relative’s mail-in ballot certificate with a false address, which had the effect of making it appear as if the relative was a legitimate voter in Paterson’s 3rd Ward, which he was not.

Additionally, it is alleged that Adames later provided false information to a detective with the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) about how her own mail-in ballot, and  a family member’s ballot, had been mailed.

The charges arose from an investigation by OPIA’s Corruption Bureau regarding alleged unlawful conduct by Paterson City Council President Alex Mendez.

The investigation revealed that Adames completed ballot certificates for two relatives for the May 2020 municipal election. On one of them, the defendant falsified the individual’s address – making it appear that the family member was a voter legitimately residing in Paterson’s 3rd Ward, where Mendez was running for office.

Adames’ relative initially stated to law enforcement officers that she gave the ballots directly to Alex Mendez, but then later stated that she did not give them to Mendez. The investigation revealed that the ballots associated with Adames and her family members were actually grouped with nearly 400 other mail-in ballots allegedly deposited in bulk into a Haledon mailbox by Mendez and his associates. It is alleged that Mendez approached a number of voters in Paterson, in the election district in which he was a candidate, and collected their mail-in ballots for delivery to the Passaic County Board of Elections. Under state law, a candidate in an election is never permitted to serve as a ballot bearer on behalf of other voters in the election district in which he is a candidate.

Adames allegedly later claimed in an interview with OPIA detectives that she had hand-delivered her own mail-in ballot, and a mail-in ballot for a family member, to a postal box in either Paterson or Totowa, when in reality she had not.

“The defendant in this case generated a misleading paper trail with the intent of effectively adding a voter to the 3rd Ward. And that voter’s ballot, along with others, were picked up for delivery by the eventual winner of the election in that section of Paterson,” said Attorney General Platkin. “We are committed to bringing suspects to justice when their criminal activities weaken faith in our democracy.”

“We take the integrity of elections seriously,” said Thomas Eicher, Executive Director of the OPIA. “Candidates need to win elections on their own merits, and on the strength of their platforms and political campaigns – not based on deceit and fraud.”

Adames was charged by complaint-summons on Wednesday, October 25, 2023, with the following:

  • Hindering apprehension or prosecution (3rd degree)
  • Tampering with public records (3rd degree)
  • Falsifying or tampering with records (4th degree)
  • Fraud in casting mail-in vote (3rd degree)
  • Attempt to cast an illegal vote (3rd degree)

Deputy Attorney General Eric Cohen is prosecuting the case for the OPIA Corruption Bureau under the supervision of Bureau Deputy Chief Jeffrey J. Manis, Chief Peter Lee, OPIA Deputy Director Anthony Picione, and OPIA Director Thomas Eicher.

Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Fourth-degree offenses could lead to up to 18 months in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

These charges are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Defense counsel: Unknown at this time


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