Political Consultant Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Candidate in 2017 New Haven Probate Judge Race

Political Consultant Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Candidate in 2017 New Haven Probate Judge Race

Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and David Sundberg, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced that VICTOR CUEVAS, 58, of Waterbury, waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty today in Hartford federal court to conspiring to defraud a New Haven Probate Judge candidate in 2017.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Cuevas co-operated a Connecticut-based political consulting business called Yellow Dog Strategies (“YDS”).  In 2017, YDS was paid $5,750 to collect 1,000 petition signatures from registered Democrats in New Haven in support of a probate judge primary candidate.  Cuevas supervised YDS’s collection of voters’ signatures using a team of “Circulators,” each of whom was required by state regulations to sign a Statement of Authenticity before a notary public attesting that they had collected the voters’ petition signatures in person.  Rather than collect legitimate voter signatures, Cuevas conspired with others to defraud the candidate by submitting falsified petition forms.  Specifically, Cuevas caused signatures of registered voters to be forged on petitions and caused the signature of a purported Circulator to be forged on a Statement of Authenticity.

Cuevas caused the falsified forms to be delivered to the candidate, who, unaware of the forgeries, submitted those petitions to be counted.  The New Haven Democratic Registrar of Voters quickly detected forged signatures in the petitions.  Upon learning that voter signatures had been forged, the candidate withdrew from the primary.

The Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission immediately initiated an investigation into Cuevas’s conduct.  When Cuevas learned of that investigation, he and his co-conspirators attempted to conceal their scheme by pressuring the fictitious Circulator, whose signature had been forged, to sign a false affidavit.

Cuevas, a former Connecticut State Representative, was on federal probation at the time of the offense.  In October 2016, he was sentenced in New Haven federal court to one year of probation and a $1,000 fine for conspiring with others to commit bank fraud in connection with his home mortgage loan applications.

Cuevas pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years.  He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson on January 17, 2023.

Cuevas is released on a $100,000 bond pending sentencing.

This investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Conor Reardon and Jonathan Francis.

U.S. Attorney Avery thanked the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission for its assistance in this matter.

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