Councilwoman Arroyo Admits Petition Signatures Were Fake But Refuses To Accept Responsibility; Scandal Deepens

From the Daily News: Siegel. Jefferson
Councilwoman Maria Del Carmen Arroyo threw her campaign staff under the bus.

Bronxites should be proud that we are no longer tolerating corrupt politicians and are slowly but surely kicking them out of office.

One of the strongest and corrupt political dynasties of the Bronx, the Arroyo clan, has met its strongest challenge to date, this time as she has been slapped with a lawsuit by challenger Julio Pabón for submitting forged signatures of thousands of individuals.

If she’s found guilty, she will be removed from the ballot come this September 10th for the Democratic primaries for city council in New York City.

Read the full story by Denis Slatery of the Daily News and watch the NY1 segment on the same issue. We’ve consolidated all pieces here for your convenience.

Councilwoman says she can’t be blamed in document forgeries because it was her staff that committed the fraud!

A Bronx Councilwoman whose campaign was rocked by the discovery of obviously forged signatures on her nominating petitions now admits the John Hancocks were fakes — but says she can’t be blamed because it was her campaign staff that committed the fraud!

In a hearing with a court-appointed referee Thursday, Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo admitted the forgeries — and then filed a formal complaint against her own workers.

“We have concluded that they falsified these documents,” Arroyo said, adding that the only thing she thought she was guilty of was “trusting people too much.”

In essence, Arroyo confirmed what her opponent Julio Pabon already alleged, namely that her petition signatures — which included fakes of Derek Jeter, model Kate Moss and other celebs — are fraudulent.


Pabon says so many of the 3,300 petition signatures filed by Arroyo’s team are forgeries that she should be tossed from the ballot. Eighteen hundred signatures have already been invalidated by the Board of Elections, leaving Arroyo still far above the 450 she needs.

Volunteers working for Pabon first noticed the fraud after finding the celeb signers — who was said to live in a walk-up building in the South Bronx.

But on Thursday, Arroyo claimed she and her mother, Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo, actually first noticed page after page of forgeries in the petitions after they submitted them to the Board of Elections.

The pol, who represents the South Bronx, says she and her staff had nothing to do with the forgeries, but merely trusted a team of people, some of whom have worked for Arroyo in the past, to collect the petitions.


The Councilwoman claims the District Attorney’s office has opened an investigation into the campaign staffers Elbin Lopez, Luis Vargas, and Betty Julien, all of whom were paid to collect the signatures.

“I couldn’t pick them out of a line up,” Arroyo said, even though Julien has worked for the Councilwoman for more than a decade and Lopez said Arroyo personally handed him his paycheck.

Pabon’s team wasn’t buying Arroyo’s effort to throw her staffers under the campaign bandwagon.

“She should be held responsible for the people working for her campaign,” said Donald Dunn, an attorney working for Pabon.


During the same proceedings, Arroyo said that no one person was in charge of her petition drive, but later admitted that her nephew, Richard Izquierdo Arroyo, was a key part of the process.

Signatures from Maria del Carmen Arroyo’s petitions. Among the names are famous celebrities such as Derek Jeter and Joe Buck.
Signatures from Maria del Carmen Arroyo’s petitions. Among the names are famous celebrities such as Derek Jeter and Joe Buck.

He’d likely be a poor character witness: Izquierdo Arroyo was busted two years ago for skimming $200,000 from a taxpayer-funded Bronx nonprofit run by the Arroyos.

He served 10 months in jail.

It is unclear how many signatures Arroyo has left; the hearing ended with Arroyo’s lawyer offering to strike 500 more signatures — which would be too few to knock Arroyo off the ballot. Pabon’s team wants more time.


In any event, the Councilwoman is adamant that she will be on the ballot for the Sept. 10 primary.

“I expect to be reelected,” a confident Arroyo said after the proceedings.

The District Attorney’s office confirmed that there is an ongoing investigation.

“There was a complaint made,” said Steven Reed, a spokesman for Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson. “We are aware of it and we are looking into it.”


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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.