Two Miami men were charged with stealing mail, including 2 ballots, from a post office drop box near Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
Police saw the men hanging around a mailbox in Lighthouse Point in Broward County, the report continued. An officer questioned 28-year-old Junior Alexander Cabral and 20-year-old Vladimir Cabral Cuevas and noticed a bag of mail and a tool used to fish out mail from a drop box in the front seat of the suspect’s car. Two ballots were separate from the other mail, according to records, per the AP.
The men were charged with stealing ballots, fraud, and petit theft, the AP added. (RELATED: Election Experts Warn Voters To Stop Sending In Ballots, Vote In Person Amidst USPS Delays)
— South Florida Sun Sentinel (@SunSentinel) October 29, 2020
Broward County Judge Corey Amanda Cawthon noted the upcoming election as one of her concerns in the case, according to the report.
“I’m not going to speculate as to the intentions behind the allegations, what mail was intended to be recovered or not,” she said. “But, I do have to take notice of the fact we have a very big election coming up next week and the timing seems to be aggravating in Mr. Cabral’s case.”
Cuevas’ attorney Richard Cooper argued in Thursday’s first court appearance for the suspects that the charges are misplaced.
“My client was charged incorrectly by overzealous law enforcement looking to fill an empty narrative that would make a politically expedient mountain out of a molehill given the proximity to the general election,” he told the South Florida Sun Sentinel in a statement Thursday.
Katherine David, Broward assistant state attorney, asked for $10,000 bail, but the judge ordered $3,025 for each defendant.
Lighthouse Point police Commander Jack Vaccaro said the 2 ballots won’t be held as evidence, the AP reported.
“We are making arrangements to return these two ballots to their owners so they can deliver them to be counted,” he said.