By Adam Shaw
Published September 06, 2018
New York Democratic socialist candidate Julia Salazar reportedly was arrested in 2011 on suspicion of fraudulently trying to access the bank account of the wife of former New York Mets player Keith Hernandez -- though she was not charged.
Salazar hit the national headlines after her claims to be a Colombian immigrant brought up in a working-class household were challenged by members of her own family and news reports. Salazar has stood by her story as she seeks a seat in the New York state Senate, blaming any contradictions on misunderstandings or errors by campaign staffers.
But Tablet, which first poked holes in her bio, reported Thursday on a 2011 incident where she was arrested on suspicion of attempting to access the bank account of Hernandez’s wife Kai. Recordings obtained by Tablet show a woman claiming to be Hernandez repeatedly attempting to access her UBS account by saying she was having trouble getting into it. The caller appears to have been unsuccessful.
Hernandez’s financial adviser then called Kai Hernandez, who alerted the police and named Salazar as the perpetrator, testifying that Salazar had house-sat for her on a number of occasions -- giving her access to financial information.
Charles Weinblatt, the detective assigned to the case, arrested her in March 2011 after interviewing her. While he said he had probable cause, he said Salazar was not charged as “a voice ID is not enough for the state attorney’s office.”
“There may have been sufficient evidence to arrest her, but the state attorney’s office felt that there was not a likelihood of conviction based on a voice ID, I would assume, so the charges were not filed,” he told Tablet.
However, Salazar then filed a defamation suit against Hernandez, claiming she had impersonated Salazar in speaking to her own bank and hurt her professional and emotional well-being. That complaint was dismissed, but Salazar amended it and claimed that Kai Hernandez told the police that Salazar was having an affair with her husband.
Tablet reports that the suit dragged on for years, until it was settled in March 2017 when Hernandez -- who had been fighting cancer -- could not afford to keep fighting. Her insurance reportedly handled a payout to Salazar.
Hernandez’s lawyer told Tablet “if Kai hadn’t gotten ill, we could have tried this case and won this case, I truly believe that, but there comes the cost of her health, and her situation was such that if they’re [the insurance] gonna pay her money, let them pay her money.” She added, “I truly believe [Salazar] is the voice on that call.”
But in a statement to The Daily Mail, Salazar’s lawyer Adam Hecht said: “Kai Hernandez’s bizarre and fraudulent attempts to defame and victimize Julia were recognized as baseless by the authorities, who declined to file charges, and this matter was resolved with a monetary settlement in Julia’s favor.”
The Democratic primary is Sept. 13.