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Ghent man ordered to pay fine in voter fraud case

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Carly Miller/ Columbia-Greene MediaThe outside of Ghent Town Court.
July 5, 2018 05:38 pm Updated: July 5, 2018 05:39 pm

GHENT — A Ghent man accused of voter fraud pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct in Ghent Town Court on June 25.

Bert S. Goldfinger, 66, was charged with first-degree false instrument for filing and illegal voting, both are class E felonies. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct, a violation; in exchange for a guilty plea June 25.

Goldfinger admitted to intentionally and illegally voting in the November 2013 general election in New York City and in Columbia County, according to court documents.

After turning himself in on June 25, Goldfinger was arrested, arraigned, pleaded guilty, and sentenced in the Ghent Town Court, said Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka.

Goldfinger’s sentence by Ghent Town Justice Mark Portin included no prison time, a $100 fine and 20 hours of community service.

Goldfinger faced up to maximum of eight years in prison on the felony charges or 15 days in jail for disorderly conduct.

State police started the investigation several months ago, Czajka said, adding the case was the first of its kind in recent memory in Columbia County.

“I never prosecuted a case like this before,” said Czajka, who is serving his fourth, nonconsecutive term as the county’s lead prosecutor.

Goldfinger was a registered as a Democrat, living in Ghent, according to 2017 Columbia County Board of Elections records.

Goldfinger did not vote for any common candidates, said Goldfinger’s attorney, Michael McDermott, of Albany-based O’Connell and Aronowitz.

“The resolution to the case was a violation, not a crime,” McDermott said. “It was technically a violation of election law, but there was no ill intent on Dr. Goldfinger’s part.”

Goldfinger, a dentist who was living in Manhattan, had a summer home in Columbia County and moved to the area full time in 2013, McDermott said.

Goldfinger voted based on where he registered to vote at the time — New York City and Columbia County — and not where he was living full time, McDermott said.

Goldfinger waived his right to appeal as a condition of his plea, according to court documents.

To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to apurcell@thedailymail.net, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.