By Miguel Cruz Tejada
NEW YORK._ Dominican lawyer Sarah Lina Machado Balbuena, former judge of the New Jersey Office of Logistics for Voters Abroad (OCLEE) of the 2020 Dominican elections in the US and with a criminal record in the Dominican Republic, and Yohanna Leónidas Tineo Estévez, former manager of the Office for the Registration of Voters Abroad (OPREE) of Paterson, from the same state, was declared in absentia by the Federal Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania where a lawsuit for electoral fraud and corrupt management funds for that year’s elections initiated by wl Dr. Yomare Polanco.
Machado Balbuena and Tineo Estévez appear in the file of the lawsuit filed by Dr. Yomare Polanco as part of the conspiracy to prevent the victory of the renowned businessman, PLD candidate for overseas deputy in constituency #1 of the United States.
The two were ordered to mandatorily respond on a new federal court date after violating the 60-day deadline originally given to them on the court bailiff’s first summons to appear.
Polanco’s lawyer, Albert Robles, told this reporter that Machado and Tineo could be sentenced at that hearing for restitution for the economic losses that the conspiracy caused Polanco.
Machado, a lawyer, has a criminal record in the Dominican Republic, where she represented the then partner of Puerto Rican drug trafficker José David Figueroa Agosto, whom the DEA described as “El Pablo Escobar del Caribe,” Sobeida Félix Morel arrested on Thursday, December 23, 2010, in the vicinity of the Najayo Mujeres prison in San Cristóbal after a search of Morel’s cell where the guards found two cell phones, one of them an iPhone and three chips with different numbers. They had. Machado handed over the prisoner and then offered 100,000 Dominican pesos as a bribe to one of her guards not to detain her.
After being arrested, she was formally accused in a court where coercion was requested, and bail with economic guarantee was imposed.
Even so, she was appointed by the JCE as an OPREE judge in New Jersey and, after the elections, in the Legal Department of the Dominican Consulate General in New York, where she continues to generate angry reactions in the ranks and leadership of the PRM. After her arrest in the Dominican Republic, the case was publicized internationally.
In Polanco’s lawsuit, he is accused of having executed, together with Tineo Estévez and other JCE officials, the orders Julio César Castaños Guzmán, former president of the Central Electoral Board (JCE) and Gilberto Regil Rafael Cruz Herasme, former director of the Dominican Vote abroad (separated from his position due to the accusations), for ignoring the ruling of the Superior Electoral Tribunal (JCE) on the recount to the detriment of the PLD candidate, Dr. Yomare Polanco.
Thousands of invalid and observed ballots were burned, shredded, stolen, and disappeared instead of being reviewed.
“The court sent them the summons with a first term of 60 days to respond; if they do not respond within that term, it is extended to another 30 days, and the Department of State will notify the chancellor of the last term.” If those 30 days end and there is no response, we have the right to request that the magistrate declare the Dominican Republic in absentia (default) and can give us judicial victory without a fight,” added Albert Robles, a lawyer for Dr. Yomare Polanco on the contempt for the two former officials
Tineo faces the same accusations and additional charges for allegedly having used and diverted part of the US$224,784.27 that she had received in two bank transfers to cover the expenses of the 2020 Dominican elections in the state of New Jersey. In addition, she was also charged with the diversion and transfer of 3 bank transfers made by the former manager of OPREE in New York, Rafael González, for a value of US$1,141,747.01,, out of a total of US$4,618,696.76 whose whereabouts are unknown to date. And identified by the investigative journalist Esteban Cabrera and the newspaper El Faro Latino as part of a massive embezzlement of funds to cover the expenses of the Dominican elections abroad.
Last year, in 2022, in an interview with the radio program “El Sol de la Mañana,” the president of the JCE, Román Jáquez Liranzo, revealed that all officials canceled, dismissed, and suspended from the OCLEEs and OPREEs in the constituency #1 in the United States, confessed their crimes and announced that the case is in the hands of the Electoral Prosecutor’s Office, which, like the other judicial institutions in the Dominican Republic to which Polanco delivered the evidence and testimonies, have done nothing to do justice.