South Fork man arrested after twice applying for absentee ballots in dead mother’s name

A Water Mill man has been arrested for allegedly submitting two absentee ballot applications in the name his deceased mother, Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini announced Friday.

The DA’s office said Wayne Tappe, 57, of Water Mill, submitted absentee ballot applications in both September and October to the Suffolk County Board of Elections using his mother’s name. The BOE had already been notified in June by the Department of Health that Lucille Tappe of Commack has died on June 16.

Mr. Tappe also submitted multiple applications for himself, the first in March and another last month.

Officials at the BOE brought the matter to the attention of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and an investigation was launched by its Public Integrity Bureau.

Investigators said a forensic scientist at the Suffolk County Crime Laboratory conducted a handwriting analysis of the September application from Ms. Tappe and found that it was written by her son. Both Mr. Tappe and his mother were registered as Democrats, BOE records show.

Mr. Tappe is charged with two counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, a felony. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Suffolk County First District Court on Nov. 5.

“Voting is the foundation of our democracy, and we will not tolerate any violation of the election process here in Suffolk County,” Mr. Sini said. “My office is committed to investigating any and all instances of alleged voter fraud and prosecuting anyone who attempts to violate the security of our elections. Any Suffolk County residents looking to report suspected voter fraud can call my office’s Public Integrity Bureau at 631-853-8298.”

If convicted, Tappe faces a maximum sentence of one and one-third to four years in prison.