Anamary Pedrosa, involved in Hialeah’s absentee-ballot bundling scandal, swore to authorities that she was not aware of the Miami-Dade County ordinance that prohibits the collection of absentee ballots — even though her own boss, County Commissioner Esteban Bovo, cosponsored the measure.
The 25-year-old did admit, however, that she did everything she could to conceal the ballots she systematically collected from well-known ballot-brokers, or boleteros, in Bovo’s Hialeah office -- even carrying the ballots in grocery bags and wrapped in newspapers from the office to the trunk of her car.
Under oath, Pedrosa explained to Miami-Dade public-corruption prosecutor Tim VanderGiesen and detective Joaquín García, from the Miami-Dade Police Department’s Public Corruption Unit, her role in the amassing of 164 absentee ballots in Hialeah. Her statement, obtained by The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald, shows that authorities did not interrogate the young woman as a suspect in the absentee ballot fraud investigation.
In exchange for her testimony, Pedrosa received immunity from prosecution. But on Aug. 10, the day after she was questioned, authorities arrested one of Hialeah’s most prolific boleteros: Sergio Robaina, the uncle of former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina.
“I don’t know why Anamary snitched on me,” said Robaina, 74, after reading Pedrosa’s testimony last week. “I was stunned. It’s sad and painful.”
Pedrosa’s statement was released week as part of the discovery in the criminal case against Robaina, charged with two felony counts of manipulating absentee ballots and two misdemeanor counts of violating the county ordinance. Pedrosa has not responded to repeated requests for comment.
Her attorney, Juan Carlos Planas, refused to speak of the interrogation, at which he was present, and questioned El Nuevo Herald’s motives for reporting on the fraud case so close to Tuesday’s elections.
Pedrosa said Robaina was the first of five boleteros who handed her ballots in Bovo’s office because, she said, they trusted that she would take them to a mailbox.
“Did you feel like you were trying to do the right thing, that you were trying to assist these folks?” asked VanderGiesen.
Pedrosa responded: “I was going the extra, extra mile for them, which I shouldn’t have.”
Robaina and another boletera, Claribel “Beba” Ferrer, have told El Nuevo Herald that Pedrosa was the one who sought their help in collecting absentee ballots. According to them, Pedrosa asked them to collect ballots in favor of three candidates to the Florida Legislature: José Oliva, Manny Díaz Jr. and Eddy González. Oliva and Díaz have refused to respond several messages from El Nuevo Herald. On Friday, González said that Pedrosa did not work for his campaign.
On Thursday, Robaina, who for years has collected absentee ballots for friends and neighbors, said that he wasn’t planning to collect ballots for the August primary elections.
“But one day she came to my house crying, asking me to help her with the ballots,” he said. “I agreed to help her so she could make a few bucks.”
Pedrosa told authorities that no one paid her to collect absentee ballots.