In her notebooks, Cabrera jotted down when voters had received absentee ballots by mail or if they preferred to vote at the polls. She also documented when others had already picked up the ballots.
For example, alongside one voter’s information, Cabrera wrote in Spanish: “Mama Rene García Recog (sic)”. The Spanish verb “recoger” means to pick up.
René García said that neither he or his mother would comment on the notebooks.
Three lines later, Cabrera noted another voter’s information and the words: “Tio Sergio Robaina Recog (sic)”.
It’s a reference to Sergio “el Tio” Robaina, uncle of Hialeah’s former mayor Julio Robaina. When asked about that particular voter, Sergio Robaina told El Nuevo Herald he had collected her ballots in the past. But he assured that he has never tampered with a ballot or gotten paid to collect them.
“I haven’t done anything wrong,” said Robaina, who was arrested on ballot fraud charges eight days after Cabrera’s own Aug. 2 arrest.
Detectives from Miami-Dade Police Department’s Public Corruption Unit first questioned Cabrera on July 25 and found dozens of ballots in her possession. Police had been tipped off to Cabrera’s activities by a private detective, Joe Carrillo.
Her arrest didn’t come for another week, when El Nuevo Herald reported that one of the absentee ballots confiscated by police belonged to 81-year-old Zulema Gomez, who was terminally ill from a brain tumor. Her sister said Gomez was unresponsive and could not have filled out her own ballot.
The arrest tainted the campaigns of two of Miami-Dade County’s most important politicians: State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle and Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
Cabrera was a frequent visitor to Gimenez’s Hialeah campaign office. Gimenez and Fernandez Rundle shared a campaign consultant, Quantum Results Inc.
Fernández Rundle recused her office from the case immediately after the arrest, saying that somebody who worked for her own campaign had been seen with Cabrera. Many have speculated it was a reference to a Quantum subcontractor, Jerry Ramos, who has a criminal record for postal fraud.
Cabrera’s notebooks include a mention of “Yery Ramos” and his cellphone number. Ramos declined to comment for this story.
But Al Lorenzo, who owns Quantum, wasn’t surprised that Cabrera had Ramos’ contact information. He explained that Quantum has advised other campaigns for which Cabrera has also worked, including Rudy Garcia’s failed bid for Hialeah mayor in 2011.
Like Carbonell, Lorenzo said that he knew Cabrera as a political activist and not as a boletera. He also said that though Cabrera was often sighted at the Gimenez campaign office, she was not a paid campaign worker.
“She went there because we had free food and maybe because she hoped we’d hire her,” Lorenzo said. “At that time she was already working for other people who supported Carlos [Gimenez] or she was working for other campaigns. Besides, there were other offices of politicians in that same building.”
The building houses a district office for René García, and in 2011 was the campaign headquarters for Hialeah Councilwoman Vivian Casals-Muñoz.