Ex-aide to Rep. Garcia heads to jail for ballot scheme

Jeffrey Garcia, 41, who isn’t related to the congressman, will spend about three months in jail as part of a plea deal reached with the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office, the Miami Herald newspaper reported Sunday. 

The deal was finalized Monday when Jeffrey Garcia pleaded guilty to requesting absentee ballots on behalf of voters, which is a felony. 

“I should not have done it,” Jeffrey Garcia said in court, according to the Herald. “I’m sorry, and I accept responsibility.”

Prosecutors found Jeffrey Garcia had requested hundreds of ballots without voters’ permission, the Herald said. None of them, however, were mailed, forged or cast.  

Florida law prohibits anyone but voters or their immediate family members from requesting ballots online. 

In May, Jeffrey Garcia was fired as chief of staff after investigators raided relatives of the congressman’s communicator director and 2012 campaign manager. Jeffrey Garcia admitted he directed them to submit the online ballot requests. 

Communication Director Giancarlo Sopo was first placed on unpaid leave, and then resigned in July. 

Federal Bureau of Investigation officials are also investigating Jeffrey Garcia over allegations of arranging a Tea Party candidate to take away votes from former Rep. David Rivera (R-Fla.) in 2010. 

Rep. Joe GarciaJoe GarciaHouse Democrats amplify anti-Trump strategy The Trail 2016: TrumpCare Democrat apologizes for remarks about Clinton and sex MORE, a freshman, defeated Rivera in 2012. Joe Garcia previously unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2008 and 2010.  

The Miami Herald said in its report the congressman did not respond to its request for comment Sunday regarding his former aide. 

--This report was updated at 4:07 p.m.