UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – Candidate for councilperson in Utica’s first district, Mirela Pekmez, was taken to court regarding the legitimacy of signatures collected on her petitions, and after a three-day trial, Judge James McClusky in the State Supreme Court ruled that she be officially taken off the ballot.
Current first district councilwoman, Katie Aiello, filed a lawsuit on April 24, alleging that signatures on her Democratic opponent, Mirela Pekmez’s, petitions, were forged.
Aiello said that the signatures did not match up with the authentic signatures of constituents from the district.
Pekmez then filed a countermeasure on May 2 alleging that Aiello resides in Herkimer and should be declared ineligible to be a candidate for the Utica Common Council.
However, that cross-petition was denied.
A crucial part in the case happened Wednesday morning when Pekmez admitted that she signed for a constituent who told her to do so via ring doorbell camera.
Judge McClusky then quoted this particular situation when explaining his ruling – saying this is a clear example of Pekmez being aware of the fraudulent activity.
Aiello’s attorney, Jeffrey Bochiechio, said in a statement:
“From the very beginning we felt that there was fraud throughout the petitions, and the fact that there was more, so much fraud, and on so few petitions, was shocking, and that’s why we came to court.”
He continued, “I think it’s significant that the court found that Ms. Pekmez herself committed fraud and participated in the fraud, and that’s why she’s off the ballot now.”
And Pekmez’s attorney said that they will be filing for an appeal, so we will see if anything happens before the June 27 primary.