New York Post





By DAVID SEIFMAN City Hall Bureau Chief


March 1, 2007 -- Agents from the Department of Investigation raided the city's Board of Elections yesterday in what was described as a "criminal investigation," The Post has learned.


Sources said the investigators showed up at the board's Bronx office and Manhattan headquarters Tuesday and yesterday and ordered workers to leave their offices so they could copy records unhindered.


"They told people to vacate their offices and to give them full access," said one source. "All they said is, this is part of a criminal investigation."


The agents spent five hours Tuesday and a couple of hours yesterday copying time records, personnel files, e-mails and the computer hard drives of several officials, including Executive Director John Ravitz.


One insider said the inclusion of Ravitz's computer in the round up was "standard operating procedure."


The board's e-mail system went down for about two hours as a result of the raid.


The source said that the DOI agents didn't request specific files.


"They asked us where the personnel files were and where the copying machine was," said the source. "They didn't ask for specific people. So we can't figure out what's going on."


Valerie Vazquez, a spokeswoman for the Board of Elections, confirmed the raid, but said she had no further information about what the agents were after.


"They were here," she said. "We cooperated fully with the investigation. We don't know the subject."


The fact that the Manhattan and Bronx offices were the only ones visited by the DOI led to speculation that investigators were examining possible irregularities involving board personnel who work in The Bronx.


"Manhattan is the central headquarters," explained one insider. "Manhattan has duplicates of the records in the other boroughs. But the originals are in the borough offices."


Many workers at the board are political appointees who operate under a system controlled by political party leaders that's been in place for decades.


Mayor Bloomberg is an outspoken critic of that system, charging that it's the cause of long delays in securing new voting machines mandated by the federal government.


"They have two parties that split up the patronage jobs and you should have an independent group that goes out and does what's right for the process rather than a group that sits there and trades one advantage for their party for another advantage for the other party," the mayor has said.


DOI spokeswoman Diane Struzzi declined comment.


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