Losing wager? Petition collector in gambling amendment drive charged for signing up dead people

Close up of dice rolling on a craps table. Random concept.
Hemos Joseph had been collecting petitions that would have asked voters to amend the state constitution to allow a North Florida casino.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) is highlighting the May arrest of a Miami man for submitting fraudulent petition signatures — including those of 13 dead people — as they seek the arrest of his relative on similar charges.

Henos Joseph, 34, was charged last month with 13 counts of criminal use of a deceased person’s personal identification. The FDLE says he was arrested May 13 in Broward County after an investigation led by FDLE’s Election Crime Unit (ECU) working with the Florida Department of State Office of Election Crimes and Security (OECS) and Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Office.

The political committee, Florida Voters in Charge, sponsored Joseph to work as a petition circulator in 2021, according to court papers. He was collecting signatures for a petition drive that would have put a question about expanding gambling on the 2022 ballot.

“Upon closer examination of these … (petitions), your Affiant noted that each form included the deceased individual’s signature and … Joseph’s signature verifying that each petition was ‘signed in my presence’ under penalty of perjury,” the affidavit says.

Ultimately, the effort seeking voter approval for a North Florida casino failed to garner the required 814,266 signatures to make the 2022 statewide ballot. Florida Voters in Charge has raised and spent $75 million on the push, the latest filings show.

For his part, Joseph submitted a total of 3,719 invalid signatures to get the question on the ballot to various supervisors of elections throughout Florida, court papers say. Out of 1,358 submitted in Palm Beach County’s Supervisor of Elections, 904 were invalid and 454 were valid, court papers say. Further inspection found that 10 of those invalid signatures were from dead people.

One of the signatories would have been 100 years old at the time the petition was signed, court papers say.

Joseph has been released on $6,500 bail, court papers say. The case is being prosecuted by Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Office of Statewide Prosecution.

Meanwhile, his relative, Alex Joseph, also of Miami, is also being sought for petition circulator fraud, according to FDLE. He is believed to have submitted more than 4,700 invalid signatures to election offices.

Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call their local law enforcement agency or FDLE at 850-410-7438.

Another person, Miami man, Haggi Amirally, 29, was arrested in March after agents said he submitted 1,160 invalid signatures for the same casino gaming initiative. He also submitted the names of seven deceased dead people to get the initiative on the ballot.

Amirally’s signatories included one who would have been 120 on the day she signed the petition as Amirally had sworn she did. That would have made that signatory almost as old as the longest documented lifespan. A Frenchwoman died after living 122 years and 164 days.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].

One comment

  • Dead People Signing Forms

    June 24, 2024 at 3:36 am

    FDLE and the Attorney General Statewide Prosecutor took three years to charge one person working for a failed petition for signing up 13 dead people.

Comments are closed.


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