Cabrera, accompanied by her lawyer, Eric Castillo, turned herself in to authorities Thursday morning at the state attorney’s office. She did not speak to reporters. Castillo did not return a call seeking comment.
Miami-Dade prosecutors had held off on arresting Cabrera as they tried to build a case for the more-serious felony charge. The arrest warrant suggests Zulema Gomez, the woman in the nursing home, was misled, or her ballot was altered, by Cabrera.
The investigation was made public last week after a private investigator, Joe Carrillo, tipped off public-corruption investigators about Cabrera. Carrillo obtained one of Cabrera’s business cards, in which she identified herself as “Daisy Cabrera” and included a handwritten message in Spanish on the back: “When the ballot arrives you call me. I work every election.”
Carrillo followed and videotaped Cabrera as she visited several Hialeah residences and the building where the Hialeah campaign office of Gimenez, who is seeking reelection, is based. Cabrera has also been photographed at a Gimenez campaign event.
Gimenez has adamantly denied that he or any of his campaign consultants hired Cabrera; a dozen of his consultants have signed sworn affidavits to that effect. There are several other contested races in Hialeah.
“Believe me, I don’t need this kind of support,” Gimenez said Thursday at the taping of a mayoral debate moderated by WFOR-CBS 4 investigative reporter Jim DeFede. “This, to me, is a cardinal sin of our electoral process.”
At the debate, which will air at 8:30 a.m. Sunday on Facing South Florida, Gimenez’s chief rival, County Commission Chairman Joe Martinez, said he doesn’t know Cabrera and believes that Gimenez doesn’t, either.
“If I were a politician, this would be the perfect position to jump all over him,” Martinez said. “I don’t believe she works for him. I do believe she knows him.”
Fernández Rundle, the state attorney, came under pressure earlier this week from her Democratic primary opponent, defense attorney Rod Vereen, who called on her to remove herself from the case because one of her campaign consultants, Al Lorenzo, also works for Gimenez.
Fernández Rundle had responded by saying that police have found no evidence linking Lorenzo — who signed one of the Gimenez campaign affidavits — to the case.
Miami Herald staff writer Mary Ellen Klas contributed to this report from Tallahassee.