After being convicted of vote-by-mail fraud in connection to the 2013 municipal elections last month, Hoboken politico Frank Raia is seeking a new trial according to new documents filed in the case.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“The relief sought is warranted because: 1) the jury’s guilty verdict was against the weight of the evidence; 2) the rulings of the court at trial, which were adverse to defendant, compromised the right of defendant to due process and a fair trial,” Alan Zegas, Raia’s criminal defense attorney, wrote in a July 9th motion for a new trial.
Zegas also leaves the door open for “any other grounds” set forth by Raia in any upcoming brief or oral arguments before the court and also filed a motion for judgement of acquittal.
Given the unlikelihood of the latter scenario, Zegas has requested 30 days to prepare a brief in support of this motion.
Raia was convicted of VBM fraud related to the 2013 municipal elections, when he was running for councilman-at-large and also supporting a ballot question to loosen the city’s rent control laws, back on June 25th, as Hudson County View first reported.
The jury verdict came inside U.S. District Judge William J. Martini’s court after around four days of testimony about a day-and-a-half of deliberations.
In short, the government, represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rahul Agarwal and Sean Farrell, had argued that Raia had knowingly led an operation where low-income Hoboken residents were paid $50 in exchange to voting for Raia’s “One Hoboken” slate and yes on the rent control referendum question.
Meanwhile, Zegas countered that all of the evidence presented by the government, which included the testimony of several former “captains” from Raia’s political operation, was circumstantial and that people were only paid by the Let the People Decide super PAC and Bluewater Operations in exchange for campaign work.
After the verdict, Martini scheduled Raia’s sentencing for October 3rd at 10 a.m., where he faces a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
While a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office did not immediately return an email seeking comment on Wednesday, a statement released by U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito hours after the verdict have led many to believe that investigations into VBM fraud in the Mile Square City are far from over.
“The defendant in this case tried to rig a Hoboken municipal election by voting multiple times, both for himself and for a ballot question that he supported,” Carpenito said at the time.
“He did so by deploying his loyal foot soldiers to buy votes from people who he thought were in need of money, and then creating a phony cover story to conceal his tracks. Fortunately, neither federal law enforcement nor the jury was fooled. Today’s verdict underscores this Office’s continued dedication to uncovering, investigating and prosecuting acts of corruption at every level of New Jersey government.”
Zegas also did not immediately return an email seeking comment.