Hoboken police chief: FBI, Secret Service aided in ‘terrorism’ flyer investigation

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Hoboken Police Chief Kenneth Ferrante went into great detail when explaining the effort that has gone into the “terrorism” flyer investigation, noting that even the FBI and U.S. Secret Service have been involved with the probe. 

“Free speech advocates were saying this is just free speech. And in the 1st Amendment there are nine exceptions for protections and one was insightful language: anything that could insight a mass of people who act a certain way, react a certain way, that group then is probably not protected by the 1st Amendment,” Ferrante said at last night’s council meeting.

He added that the county prosecutor’s office, state attorney general’s office and the FBI special agent in charge were all in agreement that the flyer violated criminal statutes.

On November 3, four days before the Hoboken municipal elections, a racist flyer that said “Don’t let TERRORISM take over our town!” over a photo of now Mayor Ravi Bhalla with a paid for line from 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco’s campaign.

All four major candidates in the mayoral contest, Bhalla, DeFusco, Council President Jen Giattino and Freeholder Anthony Romano (D-5), denounced the flyer, though no one took any responsibility for the campaign literature either.

Ferrante, who spoke as the council’s last order of business at the request of President Ruben Ramos, continued that he put four officers on every shift from Saturday, November 4 until the evening of Tuesday, November 7 – Election Day – to monitor anyone placing campaign literature on car windshields or telephone polls due to a city ordinance prohibiting those actions.

The Mile Square City’s top cop further stated that any notion he released videos of potential suspects to the media to aid Bhalla’s campaign were “100 percent false and 100 percent insulting.”

“For those who suggested I put videos out to help the sympathizers of Ravi Bhalla, again, 100 percent false and 100 percent insulting,” who added that now former Mayor Dawn Zimmer never complained about or tried to influence a police directive since he became chief.

Arguably the most intrigue came when Ferrante revealed some particulars about who had been interviewed and what other law enforcement agencies had been involved.

“Although I believe every mayoral candidate, except one, has been interviewed, we have one person still coming in. Every campaign manager except two have been interviewed, there were bloggers who were interviewed, we have interviewed several dozen people,” Ferrante explained.

“We had followed all leads that were gathered about, who people thought those individuals were. Those individuals who were ID’ed by many people … our detectives chased every lead, which was described to me by the FBI.”

Ferrante added that all the people that were named have been vetted and almost all of them have been interviewed, with alerts being issued to every law enforcement agency in the tri-state area.

“It’s amazing that nobody knows, nobody wants to say, they know these people,” Ferrante stated, later making it clear that none of the six mayoral campaigns have officially been cleared of wrongdoing yet.

He also said that the Hoboken Police Department is continuing to operate under the assumption that the people who distributed the flyers were hired from out of town.

At the tail end of his speech, which lasted almost 20 minutes, Ferrante again emphasized how much time and effort the HPD was putting into this matter.

“We are set to have a conference call with the prosecutor this week. We have worked with FBI, we have worked with Secret Service, who actually did forensic analysis of flyers that were taken off cars,” the police chief revealed.

After the election, DeFusco’s sister started a GoFundMe page to issue a reward for anyone with information about who handed out the flyers.

About two-and-a-half weeks later, the DeFusco campaign forwarded five identities to the HPD, but the department is yet to make any arrests in the case.

DeFusco lost to Bhalla by about 500 votes and many of his supporters have blamed the “terrorism” flyer for the reason he came up short.

10 COMMENTS

  1. Wasn’t one of DeFusco’s election team members sited by a Hudson County Judge as being a political operative and a bigot when dismissing his litigation against Bhalla ?

  2. Not in LE but after two months it’s hard to believe this will be resolved. That would be too bad because people will continue to project whatever they choose, especially the BITTER LOSERS who congregate on this website.

    • Wouldn’t say that about Doyle and Emily. They could come around. They were only bitter at the first meeting. They have time to improve this year. I’d give them a shot.

      The 2018 council looks like it will be very professional working with the new administration and the public.

  3. they professionally dropped brian a from the nhsa for no reason other than his alliance to the former and current mayor. they professionally dropped the vastly superior doyle from planning and replaced him with developer suck up defusco for the same reason. professionally selecting ruben ramos as council president? you’ve become such a joke. at least you and your scorched earth friends have stopped insulting chief ferrante’s integrity for the time being.

    • Doyle has sat on the planning board for years and constantly referenced a 100k “build out study” that has never been seen by anyone but Doyle and Zimmer. What zoning updates have we seen from Doyle? Doyle’s wife is also a former partner in a law firm that now represents the City in redevelopment. Vastly superior? Thats a joke right?

  4. The City Council can choose to appoint or reappoint to boards whoever they feel will perform best. On the NHSA, there were four candidates vying for the position and more candidates for the Hoboken Zoning Board of Adjustment. The council votes were overwhelming for all those appointed.

    Doyle was the council rep on the planning board. Those positions are rotated on the council and probably should be. Mike DeFusco mentioned he’ll represent his council colleagues and interface with them. He should be given a chance as its representative. Council President Ruben Ramos has demonstrated a very professional demeanor in his council work and with his colleagues as the fourth ward councilman since his 2015 election. That role is to facilitate with all involved and based on his first meeting performance, he’s doing very well.

    As for Chief Ferrante, Hoboken is lucky have him leading the HPD and I’ve never insulted his integrity. The election season and scorched earth campaign is over. Maybe you and others should try and refrain from more of it.

    • Already a overly dramatic developer’s tool, Michael DeFusco is really good at spitting out those marketing buzz words really loud, obnoxious and angry way like they actually mean something.