FBI seizes mobile phones belonging to Rensselaer County officials
Brendan J. Lyons is reporting for the Times Union agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation on February 3, confiscated the mobile phones of Rensselaer County Operations Director Richard W. Crist and Jim Gordon, the county's director of purchasing and a political ally of county Executive Steve McLaughlin. The phone seizures took place at the county office complex in Troy. The FBI is continuing to investigate alleged absentee ballot fraud in the county. William J. Dreyer, Crist's attorney, declined to comment. Gordon could not be reached for comment. The mobile numbers for Crist and Gordon were turned off that same afternoon. In November and December, absentee ballots handled by Crist and Gordon were being examined by State Police and FBI agents in separate, but coordinated investigations. Those probes are examining allegations of fraud stretching back several years. The FBI's investigation into absentee ballot fraud has focused on Gordon's role in gathering absentee ballots at a public housing apartment complex in Lansingburgh. Crist's involvement with absentee ballots in the Rensselaer mayoral race has also been examined by the State Police. Investigators seized incumbent Mayor Michael Stammel's mobile phone in mid-December at City Hall. The ballot fraud investigation involves the U.S. attorney's office in Albany and the state attorney general's office. The FBI seizure of the two phones happened the same day that McLaughlin appeared in Rensselaer County Court for a pre-trial conference in his unrelated criminal case involving the alleged theft and misuse of campaign funds. Read the full story in the Times Union.