Jason T. Schofield, the Republican Rensselaer County Board of Elections commissioner, was arrested outside his residence Tuesday morning by the FBI and charged with fraudulently obtaining and processing absentee ballots last year using personal information of at least eight voters without their permission, according to an indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court.
The indictment handed up last week — and unsealed Tuesday during his arraignment — charges Schofield with 12 felony counts of unlawful possession and use of a means of identification.
Schofield was led into court in handcuffs just after 2 p.m. by three FBI agents, including two who have been pursuing the wide-ranging ballot-fraud investigation since last year. He entered a not-guilty plea as a half-dozen supporters of his sat behind him in the courtroom. The proceeding concluded with U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel J. Stewart releasing him on his own recognizance with no objections from the U.S. attorney’s office.
He declined comment as he left the courthouse with his attorney, Danielle Neroni, and the small group of supporters. Neroni said her client “continues to maintain his innocence.”
Following Schofield’S arrest, workers with the county’s information technology department entered Schofield’s locked office at the Board of Elections and removed two computers and monitors. It’s unclear what prompted them to remove the computers or who authorized it and why.
The indictment accuses Schofield of using an online state Board of Elections portal to request absentee ballots on behalf of eight voters who had no interest in voting, did not request absentee ballots and didn’t know that Schofield was using their personal information to obtain the ballots. The indictment alleges Schofield “falsely certified” that he was the person requesting the ballot when he entered the voters’ names and dates of birth in the portal.