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Bovo Meets With Miami-Dade SAO About Absentee Ballot Probe

MIAMI (CBS4) - Miami-Dade Commissioner Esteban Bovo met with the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office Wednesday to speak with them about an ongoing investigation into absentee ballot fraud.

A representative for the State Attorney's Office told CBS4 News that Bovo is not being charged with a crime at this time.

CBS4 News partners at The Miami Herald broke the story in August about alleged ballot brokering by an aide of Bovo.

According to the paper, Sergio "Tio" Robaina has been named as a ballot broker, or "boletero" in Spanish, who dropped off absentee ballots at Commissioner Esteban Bovo's Hialeah office.

The ballots, which totaled 164, were later dropped off at a local post office by an aide of Bovo, named Anamary Pedrosa, according to the Herald. She quit her job on July 23rd and stopped working at the Hialeah office July 27, which was two days after investigators believe she delivered to the post office the 164 ballots that had been dropped off, according to the Herald.

Sergio Robaina, 74, turned himself in to authorities in August to face the charges. He denies any involvement.

Bovo told the Herald that Pedrosa quit because she wanted to go to law school. Pedrosa is reportedly cooperating with police and is giving authorities information about Sergio Robaina, who's nephew is former mayor Julio Robaina.

"I never left anything there. I didn't leave a single ballot," Robaina, 74, said. But he admitted that "sometimes" he does collect ballots and mails them.

"I have always collected ballots of different people, even for Esteban Bovo," Robaina said. "People call and ask for ballots. Then, you go and they put a seal on it and they send it. I've collected ballots because the person can't. But mostly they send them. They have to be very old or something. And the ballots have to be sealed."

After the arrest of Robaina, Commissioner Bovo released statement that he is "deeply disturbed that my name, or that of my office, is being mentioned in the same breath of an absentee ballot investigation." Bovo continued, "None of my county employees have been authorized or instructed to work on any of the local campaigns in this election."

"The truth and facts will reveal that neither I nor any other member of my staff utilized the Commission office for campaign purposes. Ms. Pedrosa's situation and action are an isolated event by one individual, and I expect her to cooperate fully with the investigation. I sincerely hope that no laws were violated by her actions."

Earlier in August, Hialeah resident Deisy Cabrera, 56, turned herself in on charges she was collecting absentee ballots from numerous Hialeah residences and forging voter signatures before mailing them off to election officials. She is the only broker that has been charged so far and is currently out on bond.

It is against the law to possess more than two absentee ballots in Florida.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report)

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