DNA from saliva leads to arrest of Florida man on voter fraud charges

Election officials say Bret Warren, 36, stole, forged 5 ballots

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Altamonte Springs police have arrested a 36-year-old man on charges of voter fraud after they said he stole ballots from voters' mailboxes during the 2016 election and turned them in with forged signatures.

Bret Warren was arrested on election fraud charges and is being held at the Seminole County Jail.

Before the November 2016 election, several residents reported that their mail-in ballots were stolen, forged and turned in to the Seminole County Supervisor of Elections office, according to a news release from the Altamonte Springs Police Department.

Five possibly fraudulent ballots were collected by the elections office and police analyzed them for physical evidence, police said.

Two of them belonged to Joy McGahey and her husband.

"It’s just crazy to know that someone stole it and signed our names on something," she said. "Yeah, it made us really upset."

McGahey said their ballots were stolen from their mailbox in front of their home.

Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Michael Ertel said the signatures on the outside of the mail-in ballots did not match the signatures the elections office had for the registered voters.

"After discovery of this issue, the affected voters were allowed to cast provisional ballots, which were counted," Ertel said.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Altamonte Springs police took saliva from the mail-in ballots and traced it to Warren. Fingerprints on the envelopes also matched Warren's, police said.

News 6 found out Altamonte Springs police detectives arrested Warren on Wednesday when they saw him throw an envelope into some bushes and then run away.

They said the envelope contained Oxycodone pills, and they said it was addressed to someone in Maine.

Investigators said they charged Warren with trafficking Oxycodone, and they also held him on election fraud charges.

According to jail records, he's being held without the possibility to post bond on the trafficking charges.

News 6 found out this isn't the first time Warren has faced fraud charges.

According to the Orange County Clerk of Court, Warren was arrested in 2015 on charges he tried to defraud an investment company out of more than $33,000 in fraudulent checks.

Investigators said he was on probation for those charges, and Wednesday's arrest was a violation of that probation.

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