TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Three Rensselaer County officials were arrested and arraigned in court Thursday, accused of conspiring to violate Rensselaer County voting rights during the 2021 elections. According to the indictment, Richard Crist, James Gordon, and Leslie Wallace conspired to obtain absentee ballots through fraud and intimidation to cast false and illegal votes in the primary and general elections.
Gordon is also being charged with one count of witness tampering and Wallace faces an additional charge of making false statements.
Crist served as the Rensselaer County Communications Director and political consultant to County Executive Steve Mclaughlin. Gordon was the county’s Director of Central Services and Wallace was a county employee and longtime political consultant.
County Executive Steve McLaughlin said in a statement, “During my service as County Executive, there have been many important accomplishments, including a 27 percent reduction in property taxes during the past five years, paving of over 200 miles of county roads, record investment and job growth, new Emergency Services Training Complex, new County Senior Center in Troy and the ongoing modernization of county offices and facilities. We will continue in our mission of improving county government, strengthening services and building a better future, and not be deterred from the work ahead. Our system states those charged are innocent until proven guilty, and I firsthand know the significance of that statement, having recently gone through a similar experience earlier this year. Members of our team will have their day in court and until then, they have the opportunity to continue their work for our county.”
“For hundreds of years, our nation has fought to live up to the keystone promise that is the franchise to vote,” said Troy Mayor Patrick Madden in a statement regarding the alleged disenfranchisement of voters. “Every New Yorker deserves access to the ballot, but the actions alleged in today’s indictment undermine the integrity of our electoral system—the very bedrock of our democracy. As this process bears out over the coming months, let’s keep in mind that these are charges. Nothing has been proven and I very much hope for the sake of our community that the allegations in this indictment are not true. As a lawyer, I put my trust in our court system and will await the outcome of the legal process.”