MONTGOMERY COUNTY -- James Glorioso Jr., a candidate for Montgomery County sheriff in November, was arrested by the New York State Police Tuesday and charged with first degree offering to file a false instrument, a felony.
State police senior Investigator Walter Hadsell confirmed that the charge against Glorioso stems from his "opportunity to ballot" in the Conservative Party primary. Hadsell said a notary hired by Glorioso's campaign, Kirsten Lemire, of Amsterdam, was arrested by state police last week in connection with the same came case and charged with filing a false statement, also a felony.
"This is Montgomery County politics, I can't let this affect what I'm doing," Glorioso said Tuesday at the Fonda barracks of the state police after surrendering himself to the charge.
(James Glorioso Jr. and Kirsten Lemire. Photos provided by New York State Police.)
Glorioso is running on the Democratic, Working Families and Women's Equality party lines.
Hadsell said the charge against Glorioso and Lemire stems from a complaint made by the Montgomery County Board of Elections. The county Board of Elections ruled Glorioso's opportunity to ballot petition invalid after approving nine of the 25 objections made against Glorioso's 42 signatures by Conservative Party member Cheryl Reese. Reese is also the clerk of the Montgomery County Legislature and supervisor for the town of Minden.
Hadsell said state police have a statement from a private investigator named "Ben Close" who had interviewed some of the signers of Glorioso's petition and questioned the validity of the signatures.
One of the objections that was upheld by the Montgomery County Board of Elections was objection No. 16, which stated that a Hector Perez had signed the petition for his autistic son Frankie Perez.
Hadsell confirmed that he had investigated the objection pertaining to the father signing for his autistic son.
"I'll confirm that there were two signatures on the petition that looked extremely alike, which is why the PI was hired and that PI determined that yes the father signed for his son. I can tell you that I went there and interviewed that father and he confirmed the same thing – he did sign for his son to indicate that yeah he would vote for Mr. Glorioso, but his signature would be, I guess, one that would be too large and take up too much space because of some type of whatever the issue may be with his son."
Benedict Close Jr., a resident of Northville, confirmed for The Daily Gazette on Tuesday that he was hired as a private investigator in a case involving the Glorsioso campaign, but would not reveal who had hired him or for what purpose.
"Who hired me, I can't tell you, that's confidential," Close said.
Jeff Smith, the candidate for sheriff running on the Republican, Conservative, Reform and Independence party lines, confirmed Tuesday that his campaign for sheriff hired a private investigator to investigate Glorioso's petition.
"Our campaign hired a private investigator, who was from a different county, who had nothing to do with Montgomery County politics or our campaign, to investigate what appeared to be illegal procedures in the opportunity to ballot process," Smith said. "We had the opportunity to ballot hearing, which they ruled in our favor, and then the Board of Elections contacted the New York State Police.
Hadsell confirmed that information regarding a possible accusation of harassment on the part of a private investigator was one component of the overall state police investigation into the matter, but said no formal complaint of harassment has been made.
"There may have been an allegation that was made someplace, but it was not made to law enforcement, that I'm aware of," he said.
Hadsell another part of the charge against Glorioso and Lemire were statements obtained from four of the signers of Glorioso's petition that indicated that Lemire had not witnessed their signatures.
"They all said the same thing, that the notary was there in a vehicle, never got out of the car, never talked to them, never came over and witnessed the signature," he said.
Glorioso provided a written statement after his arrest Tuesday.
"It is a sad abuse of our law enforcement when a possible simple mistake is turned into a crime, all in an attempt for a headline to de-rail a positive campaign," he stated. "This does not force me to suspend my campaign, which is the intended purpose. This makes me want to fight harder to win."
If convicted of a felony, Glorioso would no longer be legally eligible to hold the office of Montgomery County sheriff.
Smith said he did not want to make a comment on the legal case until he was certain the investigation was over.
"It is not fair for me to make any type of comment until they are completed with the investigation," he said.
Glorioso and Lemire are scheduled to appear in Mohawk Town Court on Sept. 12.