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Embattled official’s site touts false support from Warren

In the final days leading to Tuesday’s primary, there may be no bigger prize for Democrats than an endorsement from Elizabeth Warren, the state’s wildly popular senior US senator.

But Warren has largely stayed out of the pre-primary fray, issuing few appearances on the trail and even fewer endorsements.

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Until last night. Or so it seemed. That’s when embattled Suffolk County Register of Probate Patricia Campatelli, or a campaign staffer, took to her Facebook page to thank Warren for her endorsement. “Big thanks to Elizabeth Warren for endorsing Patty Campatelli,” it read.

Campatelli is running for reelection despite being suspended since January over allegations of punching a subordinate following a holiday party, along with taking “numerous smoking breaks, scratching lottery tickets, looking at East Boston real estate on the Internet, and filling out puzzles.”

On Facebook, words of congratulations poured in from well-wishers, and the post racked up more than 100 “likes.”

The problem is that it wasn’t true, at least not according to the Warren folks. State Director Roger Lau quickly refuted the claim on his own Facebook page (“This definitely isn’t true. Sorry for the confusion”) and the campaign has since confirmed that no such endorsement has taken place.

“Sen. Warren has not endorsed a candidate in the Suffolk County register [of] probate race,” her spokeswoman, Lacey Rose, said in a statement.

Warren and Campatelli have never even met, it appears.

Though she has extended endorsements to Representatives John F. Tierney and Katherine Clark, fellow members of the Washington delegation, Warren is not expected to make any new endorsement announcements between now and Tuesday’s primary.

Campatelli did not respond to a request for comment this afternoon, but nearly 24 hours after the Facebook announcement went up, it remained, with no sign of clarification. The congratulatory comments continued to accumulate.

Following Campatelli’s suspension this winter, a court-appointed investigator concluded that she often worked no more than 15 hours a week and “created a fearful atmosphere” in the office, according to a report obtained by the Globe.

She faces a crowded field of Democratic challengers in Tuesday’s primary. The other candidates are Felix D. Arroyo, Richard J. Joyce, David T. Keenan, Martin J. Keogh, and John Sepulveda.

Cynthia Needham can be reached at cneedham@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @CynthiaNeedham.
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