Saratoga Springs

State Police investigation finds forgery allegations against Saratoga Springs’ LaBelle unfounded

Commissioner of Public Safety candidate Tracey LaBelle watches as results come in beside Matt Jones on Election Night at Saratoga County Republican Committee headquarters at Holiday Inn in Saratoga Springs on Tuesday, November 2, 2021.
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Commissioner of Public Safety candidate Tracey LaBelle watches as results come in beside Matt Jones on Election Night at Saratoga County Republican Committee headquarters at Holiday Inn in Saratoga Springs on Tuesday, November 2, 2021.

SARATOGA SPRINGS New York State Police have determined that forgery allegations are unfounded against Tracey LaBelle, the losing Republican candidate in November’s election for Saratoga Springs’ public safety commissioner.

A report on the investigation by New York State Police Troop G completed in March but just obtained and verified by The Daily Gazette, concluded that no forgery was committed and “all subjects in question confirmed permission for their names to be on said petition.”

The report was signed by Inv. Daniel Bornt and Sr. Inv. Andrew Werner and included interviews with 19 people.

The investigation into the alleged forgery originated from a complaint by Pat Tuz, chair of the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee, alleging that signatures on nominating petitions put forward by the “United Saratoga” party line did not appear to match voter registration signatures.

LaBelle said she is happy to be absolved of wrongdoing.

“As I said from the beginning, I am completely innocent of the disgusting charges leveled at me by Democratic Chairwoman Pat Tuz,” LaBelle said in a statement. “She did this for political reasons in a failed attempt to intimidate and discredit me. She should be ashamed of herself for what she put me and my family through.”

Tuz did not return multiple calls requesting comment on Friday.

Commissioner of Public Safety Jim Montagnino, who defeated LaBelle in November, declined to comment on the forgery investigation against his former opponent.

All but one of the people interviewed told state police their signatures were not fraudulently included on the nominating petition. The one person to tell police that he did not sign the petition nor grant permission for his name to be included had his name included on a petition attested to by Samantha Guerra.

Forgery allegations against Guerra were brought by Commissioner of Accounts Dillon Moran, who defeated Guerra, a Republican, in November’s election. Guerra reached a plea deal with the Saratoga County District Attorney’s office “to satisfy all charges pertaining to that investigation,” in an Election Law misdemeanor case, according to the state police report.

The city’s Republicans said they are happy with the result in the LaBelle investigation.

“I am glad to see Tracey vindicated. We always saw these allegations for what they were, a malicious political hit job,” said Michael Brandi, chairman of the Saratoga Springs Republican Committee. “The Democratic party here set a dangerous precedent of criminalizing the petitioning process. I feel that our democracy is best served when citizens are encouraged to engage in the political process in good faith without the threat of defamatory accusations and criminal allegations.”

For what it’s worth, the state police trooper’s union endorsed LaBelle. State police spokesman Kerra Burns referred questions about the endorsement to the Police Benevolent Association of the New York State Troopers, but no one answered the phones there Friday afternoon ahead of the long holiday weekend.

Andrew Waite can be reached at a[email protected] and at 518-417-9338. Follow him on Twitter @UpstateWaite.

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