By Charles Sercombe
Michigan State Police are now part of this year’s city election.
On Wednesday, state police confirmed a rumor that had been circulating around town for the past several weeks that they are investigating election fraud.
Answering an inquiry by The Review regarding a possible arrest on Monday evening, state police spokesman Lt. Mike Shaw said investigators have been here for two months looking at possible incidents of fraud.
He could not go into great detail, but did confirm that search warrants had been acted on, people have been questioned, and items and documents have been confiscated.
“This is going to be a very intensive investigation,” Shaw said.
No arrests have been made so far.
Shaw said it is hoped that the investigation will be wrapped up before the city’s Nov. 7 General Election, and if there is evidence of wrongdoing, arrests will be made and charges will be filed.
Once that is done, he said, a press release will be issued detailing the findings and allegations.
Shaw said he could not comment on what initiated the investigation. City Clerk August Gitschlag also said he could not comment on the matter.
The investigation came to light at Tuesday’s regular council meeting when council candidate Nayeem Leon Choudhury spoke about his father being “detained” Monday evening and having his car impounded and election items seized.
It was not clear what Choudhury expected the city council to do about the matter, but he said he would take the issue to federal court.
Outside of the council chambers, Choudhury declined to elaborate on the matter. He did say, however, that he, too, was detained by state police and that investigators used “derogatory words.”
State police raided Choudhury’s business on Conant Wednesday morning, but no further details were available.
Choudhury is a Bangladeshi-American. He finished second in the August Primary Election.
A hint of what was to come this week appeared as an unusual entry in the Hamtramck Police Department’s daily incident report issued on Saturday.
On Friday, it was reported that Hamtramck officers were called to support Michigan State Police in an election fraud investigation that took place in the area of Conant and Prescott.
No other information was made available.
While authorities may not be talking, there have been plenty of others who have accused some candidates of illegally handling absentee ballots, and others of buying votes in this election cycle.
None of it has been proven, but that hasn’t stopped speculation that there is election fraud happening here.
As for election results, it appears the council race may be wildly unpredictable. The six candidates vying for one of three seats could easily slide up or down from their primary finishes.
There are two council incumbents, Andrea Karpinski and Ian Perrotta. Karpinski was the top finisher. Perrotta came in third place, but was behind Choudhury by only five votes.
Karpinski and Perrotta have formed an unofficial slate with council candidate Fadel Al-Marsoumi.
Mayor Karen Majewski is seeking her fourth term, and is facing councilmember Mohammed Hassan, who decided to run for mayor instead of another term on council. It is believed that Majewski will likely win another term.
The General Election is Nov. 7.
AV ballots was focus of past election fraud
By Charles Sercombe
Hamtramck is no stranger to election fraud.
In 2014, four men, Salim Ahmed, Armani Asad, Russell Mohammed, and Mohammed Rahmon, pled guilty to felony charges for illegally handling absentee ballots.
Three of the men, Ahmed, Asad and Mohammed, had planned to fight the charges on the basis that the law regarding the handling of absentee ballots was unconstitutional and that the city clerk’s office unfairly enforced the law.
The Wayne County Circuit Court judge handling the case, Timothy Kenny, threw out their defense arguments. After that the three followed the path that Rahmon took previously and entered a plea of guilty.
Their punishments were suspended sentences, but one has to wonder how a federal court judge will act if there are a new round of convictions.
Correction: Timothy Kenny is a Judge in the Wayne County Circuit Court.
Published October 27, 2017