Family members of the GOP nominee running against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York’s 14’s Congressional District have previously been arrested by the FBI after a 2019 drugs and guns bust at a warehouse in the Bronx.
Tina Forte has been slamming AOC for being soft on crime without mentioning that her family’s beverage distribution warehouse was the target of an FBI operation, leading to her husband and son pleading guilty, both of whom have committed several offences, according to The Daily Beast.
In a statement to the outlet, Ms Forte said that “one of my three children, Joseph, made some very poor decisions. In 2019 at 25, he committed a nonviolent marijuana offense and possessed a firearm. Joseph paid the price, in fines, attorney fees, and time behind bars”.
“As for my husband, he was unaware of our son’s crimes. He was only roped into the charges because of my son utilizing our business location for a single delivery of marijuana,” she added.
She told The Daily Beast that she was unaware of her son’s crimes when they took place and that he didn’t live with the family.
Ms Forte added to the outlet that her son is out of jail after good behaviour and volunteer work with older inmates.
“As a result of my son’s conduct our lives were turned upside down. My son knows he has no more chances with me,” she wrote to The Daily Beast. “His mistakes better have ended or he will have more to worry about than the police.”
Ms Forte has connections to the violent elements of the far-right, according to a report by Snopes. She has shared images on social media of herself next to the leader of the Proud Boys, has shared slogans with tinges of the QAnon conspiracy theory and took part in events surrounding former President Donald Trump’s rally on January 6 last year.
In her run against Ms Ocasio-Cortez, who beat an establishment Democrat to take the seat in 2018, Ms Forte has painted herself as a more regular Republican as she has pushed her small business credentials on the stump.
She has also campaigned on a spike in crime, putting the blame on New York state bail legislation.
New York’s 14th Congressional District seat is safely Democratic, with Ms Ocasio-Cortez winning reelection in 2020 with 71.6 per cent of the vote against 27.4 per cent for Republican John Cummings.
According to a 2020 Facebook post by Ms Forte, her business is located on Stillwell Avenue in the Bronx and in financial disclosure documents, she said the income her husband made came from a company in the same building, The Daily Beast reported.
The FBI determined that the building was where the crimes by her husband Joseph “Joey Snapple” Galdieri, and their son, Joseph Galdieri Jr, were committed, according to the outlet.
The Daily Beast reported that the FBI account of events differs from that of Ms Forte. Surveillance footage and tapped phone conversations revealed that the son orchestrated the delivery of marijuana worth $150,000 as his father walked back and forth behind him, an FBI agent said in a criminal complaint.
The husband pleaded guilty last fall to one count of conspiracy to distribute marijuana. He was sentenced to time served, two years of probation and $20,000 in forfeiture. His son was sentenced to 18 months in prison and two years of supervised release after pleading guilty to a gun charge.
A judge said in June that Ms Forte’s son “persisted in criminal conduct even while on pretrial release” after he carried on selling cannabis.
Ms Forte’s campaign website eases its otherwise tough-on-crime policies as its calls for “expunging the records of non-violent charges for marijuana possession” following the legalisation of recreational marijuana in the state of New York last year.
“This experience has given me insights to the reforms we desperately need, including decriminalization of marijuana, expungement of marijuana violations, and restoring rights for nonviolent offenders,” she told The Daily Beast.
It remains unlawful in New York state to sell cannabis without a license and Ms Forte’s campaign site is silent on federal gun charges or violent crimes, the outlet noted, adding that legal filings by an attorney representing her son before his felony conviction included substances other than cannabis.
The Independent has reached out to the Forte campaign for comment.