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Press Release

Rensselaer County Officials Indicted for Civil Rights Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of New York
Alleged to Have Conspired to Cast False and Illegal Ballots in Elections Held in 2021, in Violation of Rensselaer County Voters’ Rights

ALBANY, NEW YORK – Richard W. Crist, age 55, of Nassau, New York; James R. Gordon, age 42, of North Greenbush, New York; and Leslie A. Wallace, age 35, of Troy, New York, were arrested and arraigned today on an indictment charging them with conspiring to violate the rights of Rensselaer County voters in connection with elections held in 2021.

United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman and Janeen DiGuiseppi, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), made the announcement.

Crist is the Director of Operations for Rensselaer County, Gordon is the Director of the Bureau for Central Services of Rensselaer County, and Wallace works for the Rensselaer County Executive’s Office. 

The indictment (copy attached) alleges that during local elections held in 2021, Crist, Gordon and Wallace conspired to use their official positions, and actual and apparent authority over Rensselaer County employees, to obtain absentee ballots in voters’ names through fraud and intimidation; these voters did not intend to request absentee ballots, nor did they seek voting assistance from Crist, Gordon or Wallace.

Crist, Gordon and Wallace then conspired to cast false and illegal votes in these voters’ names in primary and general elections held in Rensselaer County in 2021. Their conduct violated the constitutional rights of Rensselaer County voters to have their votes counted equally as compared to votes cast by other voters, and made it more likely that the defendants’ preferred candidates would win the elections.

Gordon is also charged with one count of witness tampering, and Wallace is also charged with one count of making false statements.

The charges in the indictment are merely accusations. Each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Crist, Gordon and Wallace were each arraigned today before Chief United States Magistrate Judge Andrew T. Baxter, and ordered released with conditions pending a trial before United States District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino.

If convicted of conspiracy to violate constitutional rights, each defendant faces up to 10 years in prison.  If convicted of witness tampering, Gordon faces up to 20 years in prison.  If convicted of making false statements, Wallace faces up to 5 years in prison.  A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.

The FBI is investigating this case, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Barnett and Steven D. Clymer are prosecuting this case.

Updated April 27, 2023

Public Corruption
Voting and Elections
Civil Rights