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Judge candidate loses ballot positions

YATES COUNTY (8/3/16)--Yates County District Attorney and judge candidate Valerie Gardner will be losing her spot on the Conservative and Green Party lines this fall due to alleged petition fraud by one person associated with her campaign.
Gardner said she called New York State Police investigators Monday, July 25, upon learning a campaign volunteer may have forged signatures on election designating petitions. Gardner was in the county clerk's office when she received a call from the county board of elections advising her that specific objections to her petitions had been received by their office.
Fellow judge candidate Matthew Conlon confirmed Tuesday, Aug. 2 he was the person who brought the irregularities in petition signatures to the board of elections' attention after asking for copies of his opponents' petitions for review.
"I just assumed that they needed to get copies to me, so I offered to stop by since I was in the building," said Gardner. "I was shocked and appalled to learn that an individual who had passed petitions for numerous candidates may have forged signatures on petitions and I took the only steps that any person with integrity would take and immediately initiated a criminal investigation."
The matter is currently under investigation by the New York State Police and no formal charges have been made. Gardner has applied to the court to have a special prosecutor appointed to the case in order to avoid any appearance of impropriety as she is the complainant on the matter. Gardner said she had no knowledge of the alleged forgeries.
The immediate consequences included the removal of all suspect signatures, which impacted Gardner's ability to appear on two additional party lines in primaries this September: the Conservative and Green Parties. Gardner will remain as a candidate for Yates County judge on the Republican, Democrat, Working Families, Reform and Women' Equality Party lines in the primaries to be held Sept. 13.

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