Deisy Pentón de Cabrera kept meticulous notes on hundreds of voters, several political campaigns between 2008 and 2012 and what appear to be payments of $50 to $1,300 that are not on any candidate’s financial reports.
Detectives confiscated three notebooks in which she wrote this and other information last summer. Finally, nine months after her arrest for alleged ballot fraud in Hialeah, the notebooks have been presented as evidence in the case.
Cabrera, 57, wrote in a shaky hand and used abbreviations that are difficult to decipher. But her notes shed some light on the busy workload of this accused ballot broker, or boletera:
• She had access to more than 550 voters, the vast majority elderly Hispanics who live in Hialeah. The people whose names, address, phone numbers and dates of birth she tracked on lists titled “Deisy’s Voters” include some who have Alzheimer’s and others who are illiterate. Next to some names, Cabrera noted whether they were blind or deaf.
• She registered what appear to be payments for a total of more than $9,000 from seven judicial candidates in 2008.
The financial reports for three of these candidates show that Cabrera was a hired campaign worker, but the payment amounts are half of what Cabrera wrote in her own notes.
• Cabrera didn’t work alone, but was a part of a political apparatus with access to updated absentee voter information from Miami-Dade County’s Election Department. She kept directives written by others to visit particular groups of voters or to take others to early-voting polling places.
She also kept contact information for the campaigns for which she worked, including those of former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart and state Sen. Rene García.
Her work began months before Election Day, when she’d help voters fill out requests for absentee ballots. The ballot request forms in her notebook include some filled out by her own hand and others that had been pre-printed with the voter information. They’re dated in April 2011 — seven months before Hialeah’s municipal elections.
Through her attorney, Cabrera declined to respond to a letter with questions about the notebooks that was left on her door by El Nuevo Herald reporters last week.
“My client will never speak with you or to any other reporters,” said attorney Eric Castillo. “Any questions you have should be directed to me and the answer will always be that there is no comment.”
El Nuevo Herald obtained redacted copies of the notebooks earlier this month from the Broward state attorney’s office, which is handling the case.
Authorities charged Cabrera with one felony count of ballot fraud and two misdemeanor counts for allegedly violating a county ordinance that prohibits the collection of absentee ballots. She has entered a not guilty plea.
Friends and acquaintances describe Cabrera as a “poor soul” who lives in a Section 8 apartment and has health problems.
“I always knew her as a lady with poor health who was always helping people,” said Ana Carbonell, the longtime political advisor to Diaz-Balart. “It was heart-wrenching to learn she’d been arrested. I never knew her as a hustler.”
Despite her illness, Cabrera kept working.
She updated her lists of voters with each visit and noted when they had changed address or died. Dozens of voters have told El Nuevo Herald that Cabrera visited them year after year to help them fill out their absentee ballots, although many didn’t know how they ultimately voted.