Salazar defends herself as reports of 2011 arrest surface
State Senate candidate also denies affair with Keith Hernandez
Julia Salazar’s past is coming back to haunt her as she runs for a state Senate seat in North Brooklyn.
The democratic socialist candidate, whose campaign is in danger of imploding with less than a week to go before the primary, has issued a spirited defense of herself after reports of a 2011 arrest came to light alongside rumors of an affair with New York Mets legend Keith Hernandez.
Salazar, 27, who is challenging longtime state Sen. Martin Dilan (D-Bushwick-Williamsburg-Greenpoint) in the Democratic Primary on Sept. 13, put out a lengthy statement disputing media accounts of her arrest.
She also denied having an affair with Hernandez, a man 37 years her senior.
Salazar dismissed the soap opera-like news reports as “demonstrably fraudulent accusations made against me years ago by the ex-wife of a family friend.”
That family friend is Hernandez, the former Mets first baseman who now serves as a television broadcaster for the team.
In a bizarre set of circumstances first reported this week by the Daily Mail, Salazar was arrested seven years ago in Florida after Hernandez’s wife filed a complaint against her during their divorce proceedings.
Back in 2010 when she was living in Tequesta, Florida, Salazar was friendly with Keith Hernandez and his wife Kai, who lived nearby. After the couple separated, Kai Hernandez continued living in the home she once shared with the former Met.
Salazar said that Mrs. Hernandez often asked her to house-sit when she was away, which she agreed to do.
But Kai Hernandez filed a police report in March of 2011 charging that Salazar, who was then 19 years old, was attempting to fraudulently gain access to her bank accounts by impersonating her.
Tequesta police contacted Salazar and asked her to come in for questioning.
“I willingly went to the Police Department to speak to the detective,” Salazar said in her statement. “After which I was interrogated and accused of, among other things, having an affair with Keith Hernandez and of attempting to steal from Kai. Kai produced a recording of a phone call that she claimed was of me trying unsuccessfully to access her bank.”
Salazar was arrested on charges of criminal use of personal information, according to the New York Times, which cited police reports.
Salazar, who said the recordings “were clearly of someone else’s voice, not my own,” added that a voice expert backed up her claim.
“Thankfully, the district attorney quickly recognized that these accusations were baseless, and no charges were ever filed against me,” Salazar stated. “Still, this was one of the most frightening things that had ever happened to me. Beyond the emotional and personal toll that it took on me and my family, I was forced to spend my recently deceased father’s life insurance money on hiring a lawyer to clear my name and expunge the arrest record.”
Two years later, Salazar sued Kai Hernandez for defamation.
“The case was ultimately settled in my favor, requiring Kai’s representative to pay me $20,000 in damages,” she stated.
The recent revelations about her past aren’t the only time Salazar has found herself under intense scrutiny.
The first-time candidate also came under fire over apparent discrepancies in her biography.
Her campaign claimed that she was born in Colombia, when in fact she was born and raised in the U.S. The left-leaning Democrat was also heavily criticized for not revealing that in college, she served as president of a right-wing, anti-abortion organization.
Still, Salazar’s state Senate run has generated a great deal of excitement in Brooklyn politics.
She has been endorsed by several progressive superstars, including gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, Queens congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Councilmember Jumaane Williams, who is running in the Democratic Primary for lieutenant governor.
Salazar and Ocasio-Cortez recently campaigned together in Williamsburg.
In her statement, Salazar said the worst thing about her past being bandied about in newspapers is that “now we are talking about these baseless accusations rather than how to protect affordable housing or win universal healthcare.”
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