SARATOGA SPRINGS – A second Spa City Republican is being accused of submitting forged nomination petitions in her bid for a Saratoga Springs City Council seat in last November’s election.
Patricia Tuz, chairman of city Democrats, confirmed in an interview Wednesday that she has levied a complaint against Tracey LaBelle, the losing GOP candidate in the election for public safety commissioner against eventual winner James Montagnino, a Democrat.
The complaint accuses LaBelle of submitting a dozen forged nomination petitions to the Board of Elections.
Tuz’s accusation mirrors another that has already seen the light of day, when Dillon Moran, a Democrat and the eventual winner of the race for Commissioner of Accounts, accused his Republican opponent, Samantha Guerra, of submitting forged nomination petitions.
State police charges against Guerra are scheduled for a plea hearing on Feb. 22 in city court.
Meanwhile, the accusation against LaBelle has idled in the background for months.
Tuz said she made the allegation in November and has since been told by state police that the case was turned over to the Saratoga Springs Police Department.
But in an interview Wednesday, Montagnino, the public safety commissioner, said he told city police to hand the case back to state police, for a variety of reasons.
“The position I’ve taken is that it wouldn’t be appropriate for our Police Department to investigate it,” Montagnino said, “because it might be seen as a political thing – since she was the unsuccessful Republican candidate” against Montagnino.
Conversely, the city’s police union endorsed LaBelle, and so a favorable outcome for LaBelle could be viewed by the public as officers doing a favor for their endorsed candidate, Montagnino said.
“So we are sending it back to the state police for them to take whatever action they deem is appropriate,” said Montagnino, who noted state authorities held onto Tuz’s complaint from November until recently.
For what it’s worth, the state police trooper’s union also endorsed LaBelle, another dynamic that might complicate the matter.
A state police spokeswoman said she was researching the matter, but she did not provide a response by the Daily Gazette’s deadline.
LaBelle did not return a phone message left Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Tuz said there’s “clear evidence” of forgeries in the allegations against LaBelle and Guerra.
“There are a number of signatures there that are sided and have the same type of block letters and they don’t match,” Tuz said. “It just doesn’t look good.”
The chairwoman said she wasn’t necessarily suggesting that either Republican forged the documents themselves.
But “the question remains, as with the petitions of Ms. Guerra, who is doing the forging?” Tuz asked.
“The forgeries and filing of the false documents are the real crimes here, and we’d like to know who’s responsible. Otherwise, the very foundation of our electoral process is threatened,” she said.
Contact reporter Brian Lee at [email protected] or 518-419-9766.