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Miami-Dade commissioner's ex-aide involved in Hialeah ballot scandal: I didn't know I was breaking the law

Anamary Pedrosa, the young law school student involved in Hialeah’s absentee-ballot brokering scandal, swore to authorities that she was not aware of the Miami-Dade County ordinance forbidding the collection of absentee ballots by intermediaries — even though the measure was cosponsored by her own boss, County Commissioner Esteban Bovo.

Pedrosa, 25, admitted, however, that she did her best to hide the ballots that well-known ballot-brokers, or boleteros, in Hialeah handed her systematically at one of Bovo’s offices. She even carried them from the office to her car in plastic bags, wrapped in newspapers to hide them from view.

Pedrosa explained to Miami-Dade public-corruption prosecutor Tim VanderGiesen and Detective Joaquín García, from the Miami-Dade Police Department’s Public Corruption Unit, the role she played in the collection of 164 absentee ballots in Hialeah. Her statement, obtained by El Nuevo Herald, indicates that authorities did not interrogate the young woman as a suspect in the case of possible electoral fraud but as a lesser piece in a larger plot.

In exchange for her testimony, Pedrosa received immunity from prosecution. But on Aug. 10, the day after she was questioned, authorities arrested one of the best-known boleteros in Hialeah: Sergio Robaina, the uncle of former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina.

“I don’t know why Anamary snitched on me,” said Robaina, 74, after reading Pedrosa’s testimony. “I was stunned. It’s sad and painful.”

The testimony was made public last week as part of the criminal case against Robaina, who is accused of three felony charges of manipulating absentee ballots and two misdemeanor charges of violating the county ordinance. Pedrosa has not responded to El Nuevo Herald’s messages for comment on this and other stories. The house where she lives with her mother was closed and its shutters were drawn this week.

Her lawyer, Juan Carlos Planas, refused to comment on the interrogation, at which he was present, because he questioned El Nuevo Herald’s motive for running a story on the fraud case so close to the presidential election.

More from Enrique Flor and Melissa Sanchez here.