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Hialeah absentee-ballot scandal attracts FBI

FBI agents and Miami-Dade public corruption investigators began interviewing sitting county officials, former judicial candidates and even elected judges Thursday about Hialeah’s growing absentee-ballot scandal.

The interviews come just days after several former judicial candidates told El Nuevo Herald that they were appalled by the number of offers they received from so-called boleteros, or ballot brokers, as they campaigned for the Aug. 14 elections, and almost two months after authorities discovered a suspicious bundle of 164 absentee ballots in a Northwest Miami-Dade mailbox.

County Commissioner Esteban Bovo met with prosecutors Thursday to speak about his former aide, Anamary Pedrosa, who collected the 164 ballots in his Hialeah office.

“They didn’t call me. I came on my own,” he said.

In the past week, several former judicial candidates — who both won and lost their respective races — have told El Nuevo Herald similar stories about how boleteros offered ballots in exchange for money, sometimes explicitly.

On Thursday, many of those candidates said they had been approached or interviewed by federal or local agents.

Lourdes Cambó, a labor attorney who lost her race, said she was interviewed by investigators from a law enforcement agency that she declined to name. She said they told her they were looking for ways “to prevent the tampering of absentee ballots in the future.”

More from Melissa Sanchez and Enrique Flor here.