Fraud Leads Judge Hopeful To Quit

New Haven won’t have a Democratic primary for probate judge after all, now that one candidate has dropped out amid revelations of ballot fraud.

That candidate, Americo Carchia, was in the process of submitting a letter Thursday afternoon to City Clerk Michael Smart formally withdrawing from the Sept. 12 primary. That leaves only party-endorsed candidate Clifton Graves Jr., who will now face Republican Melissa Papantones in the Nov. 7 general election for the open seat.

Carchia dropped out of the race a day after the Independent reported that his campaign forged the signatures of registered voters on petitions to qualify for the primary ballot. (Scroll down in this story to read the original article, including examples of cases of forgery.)

But the controversy is not over. The State Elections Enforcement Commission has received a formal complaint from Democratic Registrar of Voters Shannel Evans about the fraud. And in withdrawing from the race, Carchia put the blame squarely on Yellow Dog Strategies, the Bristol consulting firm he hired to gather the signatures. And he volunteered to help the state investigate the company.

When asked in an interview Thursday why he is dropping out, Carchia said: “I cannot change the actions of the people who assisted me in gathering those names.”

He was asked what his own role was in that process. Besides hiring the firm, did he personally accompany any of the firm’s hired Waterbury-based signature-gatherers whose fishy petitions are now the subject of the controversy?

He responded that he did help ferry them around New Haven. But he asserted that he knew nothing of any forgeries or other rule-breaking.

“I moved some of the kids in my car. I was trying to coordinate with them. They were going to areas where they could gather names appropriately. Yeah, I did have these guys in the vehicle with me. I moved them from one place to another for about five minutes. It was in my personal car. So it wasn’t like I had all these people with me. All I did was move them from one place to another and I suggested buildings and areas where they should go.”

In a press release announcing his withdrawal from the race, Carchia depicted himself as a “victim” of Yellow Dog.

“Both I and a number of individuals from New Haven were the victims of what appears to have been fraudulent activities undertaken by Yellow Dog Strategy,” he wrote.

“Even if I were to come out victorious in the primary, the legitimacy of my victory would always be brought into question. The Judge of Probate’s actions, character, trust, integrity and legitimacy must never be in question and the public must have complete faith and confidence that someone who possesses all of those qualities has been rightfully elected to the position and who they have complete confidence in when they appear in the court.”

He apologized to people whose signatures were forged on petitions and declared himself “fully prepared to voluntarily cooperate” if the SEEC launches an investigation. (The SEEC next meets in September, when it can take up the complaint.)

City Clerk Smart said ballots have already been printed for the Sept. 12 primary. So Carchia’s name will appear on them. But any votes cast for him will not be counted, confirmed secretary of the state spokesman Kevin Bronson.

Yellow Dog founder Cole Haywood referred a reporter to the firm’s attorney, Chris Stratton.

“We intend to cooperate with the SEEC investigation,” Stratton said. Asked about Carchia’s depiction of being a “victim” of Yellow Dog, Stratton responded: “We intend to let our communications with the SEEC speak for themselves.”

Carchia was asked Thursday if he plans to run for probate judge next year, when there will be another election. (This year’s victor will fill out the last year of the four-year term of the current judge, Jack Keyes, who’s retiring.)

“I have not begun to contemplate that,” Carchia responded. “I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be here. I have not had an opportunity to focus on that.”

Following is an earlier article with details of the fraud:

Judge Hopeful Submits Forged Signatures

Paul Bass PhotoLinked InAmerico Carchia Wednesday said he’s considering whether to end his campaign for probate judge and vowed to cooperate with any potential criminal investigations after learning that he had submitted petitions with forged signatures to qualify for the Sept. 12 Democratic primary ballot.

Carchia turned in petitions on Aug. 9 with the names and alleged signatures of over 2,000 registered New Haven Democratic voters putatively supporting having his name appear on the Sept. 12 primary ballot against party-endorsed candidate Clifton Graves Jr. He needed 1,872 certified signatures to qualify; the Registrar of Voters office found 1,982 signatures to be valid — based on the names and addresses and birth dates listed matching those of registered Democrats. So Carchia made the ballot.

One of those signatures belonged to Andrew Weiss, a Yale student listed as living in Yale’s Arnold Hall. Weiss told the Independent by email Tuesday that he never signed a petition. In fact, he wasn’t even in New Haven during the two-week period at the end of July and beginning of August when the petitions were collected. “I was in Japan,” he wrote.

Another signature belonged to Rae Ellen Bichell. Her address was listed as Yale’s Welch Hall —where she used to live when she was a Yale undergraduate. Bichell, too, stated that she was nowhere near New Haven this summer and never signed a petition. “I haven’t lived in New Haven since I graduated in 2012,” she wrote to the Independent. “I have lived in Colorado for the last year. The last time I was in new haven was for one weekend in early 2016.”

“That’s interesting,” Joanna Lee wrote, when informed her name appears on a Carchia petition along with a scribbled signature at a Yale Saybrook College address. “The last time I was in New Haven was in May and I wasn’t there for either July or August.”

Grace Paine? Her name also appears with a signature based on a Saybrook College address. “I was not in New Haven,” she informed the Independent. “I graduated undergrad in May and haven’t been back to New Haven since. I definitely don’t remember signing a petition of that sort in person.”

Those four alleged signers’ names all appear on a single page of Carchia petitions (pictured). A woman from Waterbury collected those signatures on behalf of the Carchia campaign.

That same woman submitted eight pages of petitions for the campaign. Each petition has a capacity of 20 names. She was one of five Waterbury petitioners who turned in pages with signatures for Carchia. They submitted a total of 59 sheets, according to a review of records on file at the City Clerk’s Office. Many of those pages had similar patterns of either the names of on-campus Yale students or clusters of voters in one location with scribbled signatures alongside names printed in apparently identical handwriting.

Carchia said Wednesday that the Waterbury petition-gatherers all worked for a new Bristol-based political consulting firm he hired to help with the signature-gathering process, called Yellow Dog Strategies. The company formed in April. It helps candidates with “PAC Fundraising, Traditional and New Media press outreach, Social Media Organizing, Political Campaign, Strategy, FEC Compliance, Grassroots Organizing, Salsa Labs, NGP, VAN/Votebuilder, Vocus,” according to the LInkedIn page of founder Cole Haymond. Haymond declined comment Wednesday.

Paul Bass PhotoCarchia, meanwhile, was at the 200 Orange St. municipal office building seeking answers. He had learned the day before that someone had filed a complaint about his petitions with the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

Democratic Registrar of Voters Shannel Evans Wednesday confirmed that she had filed the complaint with the SEEC after speaking with voters listed on the petitions who said they, too, had never signed. (SEEC spokesman Joshua Foley said the agency can’t confirm or deny receipt of such a complaint until the full commission meets and votes on whether to launch an investigation.)

Carchia was shaken as he received photocopies of all his petitions from the City Clerk’s office before visiting the Registrar of Voters Office to learn more about the approval process.

“I can’t be more numb right now. Look at these!” he exclaimed.

“I’m seething inside.”

He said someone who gives him political advice — he said he couldn’t remember who — had steered him to Yellow Dog Strategies. He said he trusted that the company knew what it was doing. “It was difficult” to find enough help to gather so many signatures in just a two-week window, Carchia said. He said he had no knowledge of corners being cut by the consultants.

Yellow Dog handed him the completed petitions on Aug. 9, the deadline for turning them in to the Registrar of Voters office, Carchia said. “We made copies and filed them. These guys were supposed to have everything certified and done. When I got them, my presumption was everything” was in order.

On top of the Waterbury crew, which was responsible for about half of the signatures Carchia turned in, New Haven volunteers also circulated petitions for Carchia to help him make the ballot. “If this is all true,” Carchia said, “I feel like I’ve let down everybody” in town who “worked so hard for me.”

Democratic Registrar Evans said that her office’s job was to review names listed on petitions with addresses, dates of birth, and party registration to make sure they match current records.

All the petitions include the following warning in bold capital letters at the top of the front page, as required by Chapter 153 Section 9-404b of the Connecticut General Statutes: “It is a crime to sign this petition in the name of another person without legal authority to do so.” State law classifies it as a misdemeanor for to “fraudulently sign, attest or file a false certificate.”

The State Elections and Enforcement Commission also has legal authority to levy fines for violating state campaign statutes.

As he left 200 Orange St. Wednesday morning with copies of petitions in tow, Carchia said he wants to analyze them before deciding whether or not to end his campaign. To withdraw, a candidate must file a letter with the local town clerk, according to Secretary of the State office spokesperson Kevin Bronson. If the letter arrives after ballots have been printed, any votes cast for the withdrawn candidate will not count.

Carchia promised to work alongside law enforcement if a criminal case ensues.

“I want to get to the bottom of it,” he said. “If there’s something wrong, we have to make sure the person is prosecuted. If they call me in, I’m willing to participate in any way necessary.

“For 22 years, all I’ve done is make sure people get what they deserve. I don’t want to be on the ballot if it wasn’t done right.”

A spokesman for the Graves probate campaign, city government youth services chief Jason Bartlett, issued a statement Wednesday afternoon attacking Carchia for widespread errors and alleged fraud in his petitions and arguing that “he knew or should have known about the extensive irregularities of his paid representatives.”

Paul Bass Photo


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posted by: GroveStreet on August 23, 2017  12:49pm

Gotta step aside and file charges against the group and person who did it.

posted by: concerned_neighbor on August 23, 2017  12:50pm

Interesting. “Consultant” Cole Haymond is the son of local personal injury lawyer John Haymond.

Cole Haymond also worked for Joe Ganim! See

One of the owners (per CT SOTS) of Yellow Dog Strategies, LLC is Victor Cuevas who could be a disgraced Waterbury pol or his son. See

Is this deliberate sabotage of Carchia by outsiders or something else?

posted by: Hill Resident on August 23, 2017  12:52pm

Candidates don’t all personally go around getting signatures on petitions, they usually have a team to do this, mostly made up of supporters. The consulting firm he used should be held legally accountable for the actions of the employees who forged those signatures. Now, one could say Mr. Carchai used poor judgment by hiring an entity that he was not familiar with, that was not even New Haven based, and was not a team of supporters.  However, his statement that ‘he couldn’t remember who ...’ steered him to the consulting firm is a little disconcerting. With something as important as this campaign SHOULD be to him, how could he not remember? Also, if “It was difficult to find enough help to gather so many signatures in just a two-week window”, then perhaps he does not have the support he needs to launch a successful campaign, and might reconsider based on that. But my comments are not a statement of my intent to endorse him or any other candidate ... it’s just a comment.

posted by: DrJay on August 23, 2017  1:03pm

It’s a shame that such a fine candidate may not have the opportunity to run because of misdeeds of a company that he hired. Our community may suffer because of Yellow Dog’s cutting corners.

posted by: robn on August 23, 2017  1:05pm

A 10 second Google search shows that the political consultant (the son of a TV advertising personal injury lawyer) did extensive campaigning for Bridgeport’s ex-con-but-now-re-elected Mayor Joe Ganim in 2015 which raised some eyebrows for the rapidity of fundraising.

posted by: Bill Saunders on August 23, 2017  1:23pm

I would be seething inside, too, Americo….  you are truly are the more qualified candidate.

I wondered how the signatures were collected—its seemed like a difficult feat. 
Unfortunately, the difficulty was the feet on the ground…

Will this consulting firm continue to be in business…..?
Was this a set-up from the beginning?

posted by: Seth Poole on August 23, 2017  1:28pm

“Is this deliberate sabotage of Carchia by outsiders or something else?”

Carchia is an outsider, and it is difficult to gather 2000 signatures of people who have no idea who you are or what you represent.  If he does not currently reside in New Haven, then he should have never even considered running. 

This is deeply troubling.

posted by: Bill Saunders on August 23, 2017  1:38pm

So, how did these people whose signatures were forged know that they had been the subject of political fraud and identity theft? 

Was somebody on the inside in the know?
Is it usual for Registrar of Voters to do follow-up phone calls to double-verify signature veracity?

It all sounds really fishy to me. 
Wasn’t Ganim in town recently celebrating with the rest of the DTC?

posted by: Ex-NHPD on August 23, 2017  1:46pm

Does anyone really think this is the first time this has ever happened in New Haven (or anywhere)?

With the threshold to validate signatures only being the name, address, and birthdate matches those of registered Democrats, the door is left wide open to allow bogus signatures.  Agencies hired, as well as campaign door knockers, must be well aware of this low threshold.

Ms. Bichell told the NHI she hasn’t lived in New Haven since May, 2012.  But, she is still on the New Haven registered voter roster.  Since asking a prospective voter to provide identification before casting a vote is considered to be intimidating AND unnecessary, I wonder if “Bichell” has voted in any New Haven, State, or Federal elections in New Haven, after May, 2012.

Will the NHI verify other petitions submitted this year, or previous years, to see if other candidates have presented petitions with false signatures?

posted by: AliceB on August 23, 2017  1:48pm

When I collected signatures for a primary run I personally collected each and every signature. Yea it took time but using voter lists I knew that every signature was legitimate.

posted by: 1644 on August 23, 2017  2:24pm

Wow.  One additional thing this episode shows is how woefully inaccurate New Haven’s voter rolls are. When it comes to folks registered at undergraduate dorms, it makes sense to send a verification postcard every year, and to cross-check with driver’s registration, ERIC or some other cross checking methods. (Cue 35’s). 

  The submission of signatures from multiple voters registered at undergraduate residences is a red flag for fraud:  Yale College students rarely stay for summer term, most of the residential Colleges are closed for the summer and most of the summer term students are high schoolers or from other schools. Frankly, Waterbury seems to be a red flag for corruption, too.

posted by: Acer on August 23, 2017  2:50pm

No voter/voting fraud in New Haven, in America - really?

posted by: Bill Saunders on August 23, 2017  2:54pm

Maybe the Registrar should send out individual ‘Thank You’ Notes to every signatory….and see what bucket of worms that opens….

Alice B.,

You did not collect over 1800 signatures by yourself, did you? 

Since your name doesn’t ring a bell, I can only assume that you once ran for an alder seat, where the signature threshold is much lower…

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on August 23, 2017  3:00pm

posted by: 1644 on August 23, 2017 2:24pm

Wow.  One additional thing this episode shows is how woefully inaccurate New Haven’s voter rolls are. When it comes to folks registered at undergraduate dorms, it makes sense to send a verification postcard every year, and to cross-check with driver’s registration, ERIC or some other cross checking methods. (Cue 35’s).

This is why you need IRV voting.Why should anyone have to get Signatures.

posted by: robn on August 23, 2017  3:03pm


I also thought setup.

posted by: Bill Saunders on August 23, 2017  3:03pm

Seth Poole,

If the DTC was an honest political entity, they would have tapped Carrchio on the shoulder and said:

‘You’re our guy, you got any problem moving to New Haven…  you’ve been a diligent servant in our community for the last 22 years in this office, and we would like you to continue the Keye’s Legacy.”

posted by: Bill Saunders on August 23, 2017  3:05pm

By the way Seth, I am glad that we are both using our given names on here…...
It is the only way I know to combat ‘commenting fraud’.

posted by: Bill Saunders on August 23, 2017  3:09pm


All of the ‘Big City Democrats’ waive that flag of corruption together…..  it is just too unwieldy for one person to handle…

posted by: Razzie on August 23, 2017  3:14pm

“There’s gambling going on in this establishment?! ... I’m shocked ... totally shocked!”

Carchia is no novice at this type of thing. He serves as Treasurer of the DLCC campaign PAC. He knows the political risks. He must have known ... or should have known thru due diligence, that his signature pullers were fudging the numbers and forging signatures. 1,852 signatures is a lot of phony signatures to overlook. You gotta ask, what would he do if Paul hadn’t found out about this debacle. Would Carchia still stay quiet and remain in the race?

Bottom line is, as an attorney he is an officer of the court, and he can’t continue in the face of this massive voter fraud effort. Not even a close question of whether he stays in or gets out. If he doesn’t have the qualifying number, his candidacy is over. Or ... perhaps his vanity will get the best of him and keep him in. We’ll see. Next time, be more careful, and accept responsibility for what your representatives do in your name.

posted by: GroveStreet on August 23, 2017  3:38pm

So many people are willing to suspend reality and assume that this was a “set up.” I hope some of the commenters are smarter than they seem.

posted by: Seth Poole on August 23, 2017  3:40pm

Mr. Saunders, I applaud your transparency as well.  I assure you, my community involvement and perspective are authentically Elm City 24/7/365.

posted by: Bill Saunders on August 23, 2017  3:55pm

Me as well, Seth…. 

I have been here too long (27yrs) for it to be otherwise….
Hope to run into you sometime around town!  Be sure to say ‘Hi’.

— Anachronistic Weirdo with the Longish Hair….

posted by: Bill Saunders on August 23, 2017  4:15pm

Grove Street,

You are right.  We are just fantasizing and making stuff up….. 
Like the Nicole Jefferson/Commission on Equal Opportunities Fiasco.

The Democratic Party in this Town has No Shame and No Ethical Backbone.

posted by: 1644 on August 23, 2017  4:27pm

Bill, One party rule leads to corruption regardless of the party.  Look at Hartford (Perez) Bridgeport (Ganim and Newton), as well as Nassau County in NYS.  In New Haven, it seems to be limited to shaking down employees and developers for campaign contributions and making patronage appointments or Harp appointing Paca because she knew his grandmother.  Waterbury, however, is in a league of its own, and the corruption is definitely bipartisan.  Remember Rowland and Giordano?  The feds had tapped Giordano to document bribes, then had to to blow their cover when a Bridgeport mother was selling her niece and daughter to him, ages eight and ten. The , there was a Republican Senate candidate from Waterbury with a gambling problem.

posted by: Razzie on August 23, 2017  4:43pm

I don’t see this as a question of whether the voter rolls are accurate or up-to-date. It’s a question of outright fraud and forgery. If the voter rolls were accurate, the petition circulator still would have forged the names they were presented with whether current or stale.

I find the more interesting question to be, Why did the Registrar certify the signatures in the first place? Looks so obvious to me, even Stevie Wonder can tell those are forged signatures. And no way did Carchia not know he had problems with his signatures.

posted by: Bill Saunders on August 23, 2017  4:45pm


My Ideat Village co-conspirator Nancy was working at City Planning in Waterbury when they re-hired Rowland as Economic Development director there….

Ganim back in power….

‘blowing cover’—funny use of words given the Giordana case

Once you are in the club, you are in the club…  forever and anon until judgement day…..

I might be New Haven’s Most Notorious ‘Nobody’, but if that is the case, why do I hear sphincters convulse whenever I stick my nose into things…  ah, the smell

posted by: LivingInNewHaven on August 23, 2017  4:53pm

Withdraw. If you are so easily duped, what should we expect when you are deciding estate matters and the like? Withdraw and come back another day.  I truly hope you didn’t know about this, because those involved will spill the beans to stay out of jail. To have ruined your career for corrupt jerks would be a crying shame.

posted by: robn on August 23, 2017  4:56pm

Joe Kennedy and Henry Austin would be very disappointed to know that there were no dead people on the list.

posted by: FacChec on August 23, 2017  5:08pm


Circulator’s Statement of Residence and Authenticity of Signatures: Boxes on the back of each petition page
setting forth the circulator’s name, street address, town and state of residence must be filled out before the
circulator signs the Circulator’s Statement of Residence and Eligibility and of the Authenticity of Signatures.
Each nominating petition page must contain a statement, signed by the circulator under the penalties of false
statement, attesting that each person whose name appears on the petition page signed the petition in the
presence of the circulator and that the circulator either knows each signer or that each signer satisfactorily
identified himself to the circulator.

Also, Checking of Signatures by Town Clerk or Registrars of Voters: When the pages are submitted to the town
clerk, the town clerk must certify on each such page the date upon which it was submitted to him. Within two
weeks of the town clerk’s receipt of any petition page, the town clerk must check the signers of the petition page
against the names of electors on the registry list, certify the petition page, and file the page with the Secretary of
the State.
Nothing in this story indicates the questionable signers names were democrats, or, whether they had previously, since 2012, been removed from the active to inactive or removal.list .Just how is it that the registra or clerk found four names out of 2,000 who may not have singed the petition themselves?? That’s selective drone striking. If the four names are disavowed, does not invalidate the other 1,996 when only 1882 is required to qualify.  Carchia did not circulate the petition page!

posted by: Bill Saunders on August 23, 2017  7:06pm


You have hit the nail on the head here…...

What was the ‘trigger’ that prompted this ‘investigation’..... who said what to whom, and when

The petitions had already been certified by the embattled Registrar of Voters Office….
They have shown to be incompetent in the past, and I really believe nothing has changed..

That they would go ‘over and above’, makes little sense without a ‘trigger’—some knowledge of mis-doing…  What was that trigger???

ps… And Look for this latest ‘Voter Purge’ to be a stumbling block at the polls, when people try and reinstate their voting rights on Election Day…  Organized Disenfranchisement???

posted by: westville man on August 23, 2017  7:12pm

Well, good or bad looks like Graves is the new probate judge.  Hope it works out for us the next 5 yrs

Harp will be Mayor.  The only races left are a few alder races.  Such is new haven politics.

posted by: Bill Saunders on August 23, 2017  7:21pm


Also, in looking at the signature page—I don’t think you can tell outright that it is a ‘fraud job’. 
All of the signatures look distinct enough as to not come from the same hand, suggesting that there were multiple people involved.

Who knows, it might have all just happened in an office somewhere…

posted by: Bill Saunders on August 23, 2017  8:06pm

Westville Man,

Stop disrespecting the peoples right to choose.  You get your one vote.

posted by: 1644 on August 23, 2017  8:40pm

I would presume the petitions are public records, available to Graves and his supporters for review and challenging.  I would suspect Graves, or a friend of his tipped someone off about suspicious signatures, and looked up a few people and called them.  Anyone at all familiar with New Haven should find all those Yale dorm addresses suspect, especially given the time of year.  The question remains, are there enough valid signatures to qualify?  If so, Carchia could still primary, but given how many signatures were submitted by the Waterbury group, it is doubtful he has enough. 

Westville:  Graves will be the new judge only because New Haven has too many yellow dog Democrats.  I don’t know the Republican candidate, but it sounds like she has the right experience and is a long-time resident (unlike Carchia).

posted by: GroveStreet on August 23, 2017  10:26pm

Sorry Bill. The issue is not what led to catch someone cheating, it is that someone was cheating.

posted by: EPDP on August 23, 2017  11:15pm

Who was the “woman from Waterbury” who submitted the list of bogus names?  Why is the name of this woman not disclosed in this article?  I am sure Paul Bass tried to speak with this woman.  What was said?  The key to any set-up, cover-up or conspiracy lies with this mystery woman from Waterbury.  The cops need to put pressure on her to rat out whoever told her to forge the names of Yale undergrads, as if they care who gets elected New Haven Probate Judge. This woman needs to come forward before the election, or there will forever be a cloud over the legitimacy of the new judge.  Is it too late for Judge Keyes to change his mind and keep the office clean?

posted by: robn on August 24, 2017  8:28am

I wish life were so simple but given that the source of the signatures is a political operative with ties to shadier corners of the CT Democratic Party, the story is most certainly bigger than just forged signatures.

1) Who did it and why?
2) Who discovered/reported it and why?
...and of course…
3) Who knew what and when?

posted by: westville man on August 24, 2017  9:48am

Bill -  LOL!  Disrespecting the people’s right to choose? I’m making a prediction that I think is grounded in reality. Carchia,  whom I supported with some reservations, just sealed his fate. And can you tell me when an endorsed Democrat last lost a mayoral race in New Haven? I have voted for a lot of losers lately and I probably will again. But don’t stretch my prediction into disrespect- you might strain your back.

As an aside, I will admit I am surprised by the lack of attorneys interested in the judge of probate position. It speaks to how difficult the job really is when a salary of 150 K per year with pension and health benefits to match aren’t enough to attract qualified and experienced attorneys.

BTW,  the Republican candidate, Melissa Papantones, is well-qualified but her lack of presence at the forums may mean she is raising the white flag already

posted by: 1644 on August 24, 2017  9:58am

3/5’s. Ranked voting doesn’t matter when there are only two candidates.  As for the need to collect signatures, it’s expensive to run elections. I expect the cost is $15-$20K in New Haven.  Before we spend those tax dollars on a primary, it makes sense to ask the candidate to demonstrate a minimal level of support.  Two thousand people out of a city of of over $100K should not be so hard.  Carchia’s problem is that he hasn’t been involved on a local level in New Haven.  My experience in local politics is people don’t vote for the most qualified, they vote for the guy that they know, that coached their child’s little league team, etc.

posted by: Gary Stewart on August 24, 2017  10:42am

So, there were enough legit signatures, let the show go on. The real story here is the fact that the local Democratic Town Committee ( DTC) , AKA Vinnie Mauro Jr). , gave candidates needing signatures the absolute minimum time to do so, for obvious reasons. God forbid real democracy being allowed to flourish. The fact that Marcus Paca was able to get the signatures under these conditions shows the amount of grassroots , as opposed to bought & paid for, support should make the Harp campaign fearful. Keep an eye out for fraud there! I regret to hear that Jason Bartlett , the mayor’s chief minion , is running the graves campaign. There’s no good reason to listen to anything coming out of his / Toni Harp’s mouth.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on August 24, 2017  11:32am

posted by: 1644 on August 24, 2017 9:58am

3/5’s. Ranked voting doesn’t matter when there are only two candidates

My point is you can use IRV.if you let the people vote for the candidates not the crooked two party system DTC and RTC.As it works now the Political hacks on the town committees vote for the candidate who will run for there party..How come we the people can not pick who we want to run for the party?

As for the need to collect signatures, it’s expensive to run elections. I expect the cost is $15-$20K in New Haven.

The crooked two party dulop made the rule that you have go out and get signatures.The primaries are rigged in favor of the crooked two party dulop Jimmy Carter use to Monitor world wide elections. He said the election system in this country is the worst on the planet. In fact I know of no other countries that use town committees to pick the candidates.From what I have read the people vote first to pick the candidate to run.

posted by: westville man on August 24, 2017 9:48am

And can you tell me when an endorsed Democrat last lost a mayoral race in New Haven?

You speak the truth.In fact all one has to do is look at who coffins are getting that machine money.

posted by: TheMadcap on August 24, 2017  11:43am

I had no idea the head of the local DNC was the entire state government (it’s state law that sets the timelines)

posted by: TheMadcap on August 24, 2017  11:46am

I think what stands out here is the fact while the signatures may be different, the printed name and addresses are all the exact same. Ive signed petitions before including 2 just in the past electiom and each time I wrote my printed name and address??

posted by: VoiceofthePeople on August 24, 2017  12:07pm

Gary, using the fact that Paca barely made the ballot (by 58 signatures) to try to prove his ‘grassroots’ support is substance-less spin that ignores recent history.

In 2013:
Toni Harp collected 4,800 signatures in just five days - and then brought in 600 more.

Justin Elicker brought in 4,753

Henry Fernandez took more time and brought in 6,021 signatures

and Kermit Carolina brought in 4,400.

Even City Clerk candidate Sergio Rodriguez came in with 3,500 signatures.

Each of those campaigns used hundreds of people on the streets to do the work in just a few short days - trying to make a comparison just shows how much Paca simply isn’t a serious candidate.

Because of the voter list cleanup, the bar for collecting signatures was the lowest that is has been in over a decade (and Paca’s signatures wouldn’t have met the higher threshold). That it took literally until the last day to barely complete what for local candidates has been the bare minimum requirement is not a sign of strength but of weakness, either from disorganization or shallow/non-existent support (with the seeming exception of 3 prolific Indy commenters).

posted by: Gary Stewart on August 24, 2017  1:35pm

There was a timeframe during which the DTC Convention could have been held - followed by the beginning of the signature process. If I remember right , the Convention could have been held a week earlier than it was., giving candidates that much more time to get signatures and less need to cut corners. If you don’t think the system is rigged , come to a DTC meeting. I was the only member to endorse Marcus Paca. Has Toni really been that great? Or, were people bought off/ intimidated?

posted by: 1644 on August 24, 2017  2:07pm

3/5’s:  The process of choosing candidates varies from party to party and town to town.  Sometimes, its a closed nominating committee, sometimes the town committee, and sometimes a caucus (any party member can attend and vote).  As others have pointed out, its actually pretty easy for an unaffiliated candidate to petition to get on the November general election ballot, as it should be since we are holding that election anyway.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on August 24, 2017  6:59pm

posted by: 1644 on August 24, 2017 2:07pm

3/5’s:  The process of choosing candidates varies from party to party and town to town

Again my point is why does anyone have go out to get signatures? In fact you would not have this fraud if you did away with signatures..Also I have talk to both Republicans and Democrats who told me that no one should have to go out to get signatures.The electoral systems are designed by politicians of the crooked Two Party Dulop.The crooked Two Party Dulop system reinforces the majoritarian systems.In fact in Duverger’s law Dr. Maurice Duverger talk about how elections in political systems like the United States tend to favor the two major parties, Making it very hard for a third party to win.This system of getting signatures to get on a ballot must go.

My bad.The crooked Absent T Ballots must also go.And we must have Open Primaries and bring in Proportional Representation and Term Limits.

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on August 24, 2017  10:32pm

I find this statement by Carchia quite disturbing -

“He said someone who gives him political advice — he said he couldn’t remember who — had steered him to Yellow Dog Strategies.”  The idea that a candidate would hire a company that determines as to whether or not they would be on the ballot come Election Day, and they can’t remember who referred them, is garbage. 

For those that tried to sully the name of Mr. Graves because he entered this race, shame on you.  I have had my concerns with Mr. Graves, but it never had anything to do with his character or likability.

Let’s call this conundrum exactly what it is.  The Carchia camp did not feel comfortable investing in black people (who live in NH) to circulate his petitions.  Folk would’ve lined up at his headquarters to circulate petitions easily for pay.  In fact, for the amount of money he paid (?) these alleged crooks, he may have saved some money had he invested his resources on the streets. 

I want to be the first on this forum to congratulate Cliff on his victory as the next Probate Judge of the City of NH.

Shame on you and your team Carchia.

posted by: Bill Saunders on August 25, 2017  1:30am

Well, Shame on me then, Brian L. Jenkins….

As I said, I think Mr. Graves is a nice gentleman, but from what I saw at the forum, Carrchio was the clear expert for the office…..

posted by: Bill Saunders on August 25, 2017  2:02am

It is also strange to me that Probate Judge is an elected position at all. 
Every other sitting Judge in the State of CT is done through appointment.

posted by: Bill Saunders on August 25, 2017  2:47am

Brian L. Jenkins,

I am sure Carrchio remembers who told him about Yellow Dog. 
I am also sure that is where the story gets interesting.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on August 25, 2017  8:11am

The question now is did Carchia know about the Fraud? Right now it is not looking good for Yellow Dog Strategies he hired to go out to get the Signatures..Also if Carchia is found to not have any knowledge of this Fraud. He can run next year.

posted by: 1644 on August 25, 2017  9:55am

I suspect:
1) Carchia was dismayed at the DTC outcome, and, lacking a political organization and deep community roots, daunted by the requirement to gather 2K signatures in a short time, especially while maintaining his law practice.
2). He expressed these thoughts to others, one of whom said: call Yellow Dog.  They are fast and cheap.
3). Carchia paid his money and asked few, if any, questions.

Now, he is shocked, shocked I tell you, to find out Yellow Dog is untrustworthy.
I, also, suspect a review of his texts, e-mails, and phone records will refresh his memory of who led him to Yellow Dog.

posted by: EarlyBird on August 25, 2017  10:08am

For those wondering wondering what might have triggered an audit: my guess is that someone realized that signatures for those with Yale College addresses were unlikely, as 1. there is no public access to the colleges and 2. students are (with few exceptions) not in their dorms in July.

posted by: Razzie on August 25, 2017  10:33am

Brian and Bill—

As a supporter of Attorney Graves, I appreciate both of your comments. I disagree with Bill, however, about which is the better or more qualified candidate. And this episode is an example of why I feel that way.

The probate judge position is an elective position by design, and not by accident. Only relatively recently was it even required that the “judge” be a licensed attorney member of the CT bar. The types of matters that predominate in probate court (adoptions and custody, conservatorships, wills and estates, name changes, etc) are the types of matters where knowledge and “connectedness” to the ordinary citizens of New Haven is of primary importance. Not to say that legal “book learning” is not important. But being a member ingrained in the fabric of the community takes primacy. Carchia’s primary weakness—being an “outsider” unfamiliar with the basics of New Haven life and politics—was laid bare by this episode. Like Brian said, Carchia lacked New Haven support and turned to an outside vendor of questionable ethics. He needed the signatures badly, and made the conscious decision to cut corners to get them. Whether he directly participated in the fraud is unclear at this time. But his woeful exercise in situational ethics makes his candidacy moot. I personally don’t buy the “victim” alibi.

And Bill ... I don’t agree that Carchia’s resume makes him a more compelling choice. Take a moment to match his training and background against Graves’ credentials [Gunnery, Tufts, Georgetown Law vs. Salve Regina, Thomas Cooley Law]. If you are going to make statements about relative qualifications, you need to tell us what you are measuring. Likewise, if you are going to disparage a potential judge, you owe it to everyone to be specific about what you are complaining about.

posted by: robn on August 25, 2017  10:51am

I thought the basis of Atty Carchia’s candidacy was his many years of work under the former Judge Jack Keyes? Which reminds me that Judge Keyes (the local unions first choice before nominating candidate Harp) had been described by the NHI commentariat as the second coming of Mother Theresa. So was that all BS? I dunno…I don’t know these guys.

posted by: westville man on August 25, 2017  11:51am

Razzie-  there is little disagreement in the legal community that Carchia knows more about probate than does Graves. His practice is steeped in that.  THAT SAID,  Cliff will certainly get up to speed on it and will probably do a very good job.  I also agree with others that this should no longer be an elected position.  Vet and appoint like we do with the other judges.  It works fairly well. 

I am aware that Cliff is a New Havener and that’s worth something to me, too.

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on August 25, 2017  11:51am

.... Additionally, this idea that Carchia should entertain the idea of running next year is disrespectful to the entire voting electorate citywide. 

Admittedly, Carchia was directly complicit in this horrible attempt to dupe the political system in NH by transporting the alleged guilty.  Here’s a question to those that are of sound mind only.  If I were to drive a bank robber from bank to bank as he fashioned himself in wrong doings, should I be guilty too? 

Lets all do away with the conjecture; and really distill the seriousness in this entire embarrassing blemish on the the City of NH.  Mr. Carchia was running for JUDGE.  Full stop.  The only thing on the table at this juncture is for Carchia to show some deference to Mr. Graves and depart with the little respect that he has remaining.

Let me close with this, no one read anywhere nor will they ever read where Cliff is found wallowing in Carchia’s current demise.  Simply put, the brother is classy and that just isn’t a part of his DNA. 

As facts change, so do I.

posted by: westville man on August 25, 2017  12:50pm

BLJ—-  ” If I were to drive a bank robber from bank to bank as he fashioned himself in wrong doings, should I be guilty too? ”  Even you can’t think this is a fair comparison!  Hiring someone to provide a service is equivalentl to driving a bank robber to a bank??  LOL!

posted by: GroveStreet on August 25, 2017  12:52pm

We get it Bill. You really really really like the guy whose team cheated. I think you are just a few comments away from blaming Obama.

posted by: Razzie on August 25, 2017  1:00pm

Westville Man—“Razzie-  there is little disagreement in the legal community that Carchia knows more about probate than does Graves.”

Sorry, but I don’t accept your conclusion. I know and work with many people in the legal community. None of them have shared that relative assessment. Admittedly, Carchia has more time and “practice” in probate matters. But with 7 years of probate experience under his belt (all of which came under the tutelage of Jack Keyes), I can’t agree with your statement ... that “Carchia knows more about probate than does Graves.” Yes, Carchia has had a practice centered around probate cases. But pushing papers for 22 years doesn’t automatically make you a learned scholar. At best, I have heard Carchia and his probate practice described as “competent…nothing spectacular”. And I am not aware of any independent polls or other evaluations that address the subject.

Moreover, Clifton has over 8 years of experience “adjudicating” cases, which Carchia has zero experience. Certainly that has to count for something in your assessment. All I say is, each person has to be clear about what they are using to measure the relative suitability of the candidates. And should exercise their own due diligence in understanding the basis of that comparison. There are times when one’s familiarity with a candidate in a social setting unfairly influences the assessment of their technical skills and suitability.

posted by: Razzie on August 25, 2017  1:27pm

Cliff Graves has 7 years of probate experience, all of it under the tutelagr of Jack Keyes.

posted by: Bill Saunders on August 25, 2017  1:33pm

Westville Man,

Why would I be one step away from blaming Obama????  I voted for him twice, and would have voted for him a third time if not for this persnickety thing called ‘term limits’. 
If that your fall-back insult so you don’t need to invoke ‘Trump’, you need to try harder.

I am sure the Mr. Graves will make a fine Probate Judge.

One thing is for sure, I have never seen this position be in the public eye like this.
I am sure it has been educational for everybody.

posted by: Sum1WhoKnows on August 25, 2017  1:38pm

This is very sad and I am sorry this happened, but I am also sorry but Clifton is neither qualified or competent for this position… VOTE REPUBLICAN

posted by: westville man on August 25, 2017  1:39pm

Fair enough Razzie.  I hear you.  My opinion is based upon conversations with lawyers, judges (of probate) and probate officers.  All thought Carchia was more qualified.  I know him in a professional setting, Cliff in a social one.

I was undecided with my vote, but not anymore! I wish Cliff well.

posted by: Bill Saunders on August 25, 2017  1:42pm

If I addressed that last post to Westvillle Man, I am sorry…...  @
that back-banter was meant for my buddy Grove Street….

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on August 25, 2017  3:12pm

@ Westvilleman,

I’ll give way to your own partial intelligence to answer your own injudicious question. 

While laughing at yourself, you failed to record Carchia’s own words when he said he “drove some of the workers around himself.” Thus my bank robber analogy.

Hiring a company and giving them complete autonomy to fulfill their contractual obligations is one thing.  But when he said he “assisted them by transporting them in his personal vehicle,” that of in itself put him right smack in the middle of the allegation in my view.

Now, getting back to you, you would be wise to take your time when reading comments on this forum ... because those that comment on a regular basis are highly intelligent people in whom you can learn quite a bit from—that is of course if you can find the time to stop laughing at yourself.  I measure my words very carefully my friend.  In fact, if you were to read my comments again with patience and humility, you would you would find yourself agreeing and being contrite in response.  But humility is an arduous task for most people. 

In reading your comments, I’m sure this revelation of cheating by the Carchia team devastated your entire being.  Get over it! 

As one can clearly see, I have absolutely NO sympathy for cheaters.  But I do have sympathy for you.  Just kidding.  Lol

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on August 25, 2017  3:24pm

@ Sum1WhoKnows,

Two things, have you acquainted yourself with Mr. Graves’ level of competence? 

Also, why should we vote Republican when the LEADER of the Republican Party is making a fool out of the American people while embarrassing America on the worlds stage?  Not to mention throwing his own party members under the proverbial bus every other tweet.

posted by: 1644 on August 25, 2017  5:09pm

Brian: Trump is not running for Judge of Probate, so he is not relevant.  It is relevant to compare the qualifications of Graves and Papantones.  Each candidate has good and bad points.  Each voter should consider the candidates, and vote as they individually wish to do so.

If people voted on competence rather than, “He cares about people like me”, Trump would not be President. Democrats could help themselves in middle America, aka flyover country, by actually respecting the folks who live there, rather than adopting condescending attitudes towards them for “clinging to guns and religion” and calling them deplorable.

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on August 25, 2017  6:39pm

@ 1644,


I would rather be on the losing end every single time than to be a part of a party that appeals to the wealthy ad nauseam by hurting the poor, the environment, the disabled, the LBGTQ, the Dreamers, the elderly and now their uplifting of the racist, terrorist thugs.  So I’m happy being right where I am.

posted by: Bill Saunders on August 26, 2017  5:28am

Seriously Jenkins,

Cut the guy some freakin’ slack….

There is ZERO PROOF that he was complicit in this debacle… 

Election Fraud is really serious stuff, and if you think a sworn officer of the court isn’t aware of the consequences, you are a fool. 

Yellow Dog, that is another story…. 

Wait for the investigation before casting stones…. 
When you right, if your right, I’ll send you a box of bon-bons….

If I’m right, what do I get—it better be better than a peck on the cheek….

posted by: 1644 on August 26, 2017  3:13pm

Brian: You are Steve Bannon’s favorite Democrat: “If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”
Read Egan’s NYT column on the topic.

posted by: westville man on August 26, 2017  6:18pm

BLJ.  So you still don’t understand the differences?  Let me try this for you -

I hire a company to paint my house.  I drive them to buy the paint at Home Depot. If they rob the store, I am not complicit.  Driving a bank robber to rob a bank makes me not only complicit, but an accessory. That’s why your analogy is fallacious.

If that’s still too complicated for you, let me know.  I can boil it down even simpler for you. Education and some level of sophistication go a long way!

posted by: Bill Saunders on August 27, 2017  4:08am

Cliff and I have been emailing back and forth all weekend. 
I was surprised to find him in my email.  I am sure Jenkins gave it to him.

So, Brian, here is the deal…. I will share my back and forth and my concerns in a link on here, but unfortunately, you were not at the forum, you are only stumping for your buddy.

I heard things that were concerning despite Mr. Graves attempt to spin it…

Also, understand, that as one of the few white men in the congregation, I might have a different, equally valid perspective.

Don’t take your ‘Black’ thing too far…..  it will backfire on you by itself.

The Bully crap you pulled really sucked and makes me question you….almighty Brian.

posted by: Acer on August 27, 2017  7:26am

I know that comments on a wide range of topics from many different articles appearing in the NHI often go off topic. This particular article is simply about one thing and one thing only - the integrity (or lack) of the petition/voting process. It is not about Mr. Graves’s or Mr. Carchia’s or Ms. Papantones’s competence. Like all things “hackable”, the whole process of petitions and voting (identification, lack of updated voter data, antiquated voting process, incompetent/unscrupulous people, etc.) in New Haven (and across America) is easily, and I suspect regularly abused.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on August 27, 2017  9:38am

I was talking to my sister friend in New York who mother is a judge in probate court in New York. I send her mother this article.She called me and we talked about a hour. She told me in New York probate court is call The Surrogate’s Court of the State of New York.She told me who wins this job.They better Know what they are doing.She told me this job is no joke and noting to play with .She told me you better know Estate Administration Estate Laws Uniform Probate Code.She said you have to deal with Uncontested Estates and Contested Estates.She said you have to hire a good crew to work for you.She told me anyone that takes this job just for Politics.They will not last long. Again she told me You better know what you are doing. So my take on this is as brother Malcolm X said time will tell.

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on August 27, 2017  11:21am

@ Bill Saunders,

Breakfast is done.

“Election Fraud is really serious stuff, and if you think a sworn officer of the court isn’t aware of the consequences, you are a fool.”  Are you kidding me with such an open-ended statement?

Here’s just a few familiar names to quash such a ridiculous statement -

1. Nixon
2. Clinton
3. David Petraeus
4. Judge Mark Ciavarella

I would also invite you to read the story of Judge Linda Reade who became famous or should I say infamous for putting hundreds of immigrants behind bars while her husband invested in private prisons.  I’m only allowed 2000 characters; and will need a minimum of roughly 10,000 more to fully respond to such a nonsensical statement.

I find zero pleasure in hearing of a potential indictment of Carchia behind this mess.  But this same legal system have found poor people guilty for less.

“When you right, if your right, I’ll send you a box of bon-bons….

If I’m right, what do I get….”  Nothing!

@ 1644,

Thanks for the insult, my mother always told me I’d be famous. 

Sorry, I only read literature that can hold my interest.  I recommend you read the autobiography of Dr. King.

@ Westvilleman,

Your written soliloquy would make plenty of sense if Carchia just drove the paint guy to one store, but he didn’t.  He drove the alleged criminals to Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace Hardware, Costco, BJ’S, Sam’s Club and then on to McDonald’s for a public display of euphoria for having just embarrassed the city that I love.  But since the window was closing fast, they went back to the proverbial “honey hole” (Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace Hardware, Costco, BJ’S and Sam’s Club) to finish gathering illegal signatures. 

Now If that’s still too complicated for you, let me know so I can boil it down even simpler for you.  Education and some level of sophistication can go a long way!

Of course I’m just kidding.about a portion of what I wrote.

posted by: Bill Saunders on August 29, 2017  2:47am

Almighty Brian Jenkins…..

I have returned from the altar to share some hard truths…...

Carrchia reminded me somehow of that earnest clerk in “Brazil”, who tried to do the right thing to correct an administrative error, but got cast into the ‘bureaucratic maze of power’.

Honestly, this is the kind of guy I root for.
He proved himself shockingly credible on stage, despite my initial impression of him.

I even walked in leaning towards Graves, but as I told Cliff myself—
‘You had a chance to sway me.  You did Not.’

It’s funny Brian, because the people you mention are ‘hungry’ by design. 
These are the people seeking that corruptible absolute power.

Carrchia just struck me as a real dude, whose been working under Keyes,  who knew his stuff and that wanted to earnestly help people at that next level, after 22 years of service….

Graves, on the other hand, when faced with real questions about law, fell back to this notion of ‘creating coalitions’.  He also name dropped the First Black Woman Probate Judge in Hartford twice, with little explanation (the second time was a little better), except GOOGLE IT.

I call this playing to the audience, not the position. It is not going to work outside of church.

I didn’t see an agenda with Carrchia…  a family man with three underage daughters…

Graves, on the other hand, I think feels entitled to the position because he has been ‘Tapped’ by ‘THE POWER”.

Also, as somebody who suffers from Manic Depression, I thought about the position in terms of my personal ‘struggle’ and who I would feel more comfortable in the hands of….

So, argue away….  it’s really a moot point   Graves has to step up his game for November.  This Primary is a complete PASS at this point, so I wonder what your point really is, except that maybe your are scared that your candidate is indeed woefully qualified for the position…..

Talk to me with facts, not these weird syllogisms…...


posted by: Bill Saunders on August 29, 2017  2:55am

btw Almighty Brian,

Your return gift of “Nothing’ is greatly appreciated….....
I do this for fun, not profit…..

Truth hurts…..

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on August 29, 2017  9:26am

@ Bill Saunders,

I would appreciate it if you call me by name as I do you. 

If you disagree with my points that’s fine.  However, “Almighty” applies to God and God only. 

I’m done with Carchia and the alleged gang of thieves.

Say what you will about Cliff, but the last time I checked, he wasn’t being investigated for any improprieties.  For after all, isn’t JUDGEMENT at the center of all of this? 

Enjoy your day Bill Saunders.

posted by: Acer on August 29, 2017  12:32pm

To all those using this forum to promote or demote, Graves, Carchia, Papantones and one another - stop already. The article and the forum connected to it are about one thing only, the very serious and troubling matter of the petition, voting, and potential election fraud. Stay focused, please.

posted by: Realmom21 on August 29, 2017  1:20pm

For anyone who doesn’t know the level of activity needed to charge and convict someone of conspiracy is so ridiculously minuscule it is often compared to shooting fish in a barrel. One doesnt have to have details but to not have inquired, researched or questioned the credibility of someone working on your behalf in this day and age almost suggest that Attorney Carcha may be the least qualified. I think they are both great men with much to offer. One may have had more direct hands on experience but it doesn’t mean that the other doesn’t have quite a bit to bring to the table as well. Sometimes new fresh eyes bring great changes. Based upon how much of Carcha’s business has stemmed from the PROBATE Office directly I wold hope he would continue to make himself available to the assignments that come from the office and that he would continue to be the professional he has been. I hope Attorney Graves appreciates the value in haveing such an attorney at his availability when delegating cases as Judge Keyes did. The community NEEDS both of them for very different reasons. I hope they are both mature enough to see such and dont become pawns of the party

posted by: Bill Saunders on September 1, 2017  1:39am


You’re an ex-minister, right???

Almighty refers to “GOD” in your lexicon, not mine.
I am free to use the language as I see fit…..

I guess you can give me ‘forgiveness’, but I don’t need your blessing…...

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on September 1, 2017  7:56am

Mr. Bill Saunders,

I kindly ask you, what is this fixation you have of me? 

I’ve never been a minister anywhere.  However, I’m an incessant lover of Jesus Christ.  You would do well to develop a relationship with Him too.

You’re correct, you are “free to use any language you see fit.”  I only ask that you address me as I address you.

In terms of my forgiving you, you’ve done nothing to me for which to be forgiven. 

As you try to bait me into sparring with you, my mind refuses to allow me to submit to your comical machinations. 

Take care of yourself and be safe in your travels.