During Raia’s Hoboken VBM trial, Calicchio testifies he worked for Gonzalez in 2015


As part of the federal vote-by-mail trial for Frank Raia, longtime Hoboken politico Matt Calicchio testified that he worked for 5th Ward council candidate Eduardo Gonzalez in 2015, revealing one of the two unnamed candidates mentioned in his criminal complaint.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“Weren’t you taping people for the government since December as part of your cooperation agreement,” Alan Zegas, Raia’s attorney, asked Calicchio during cross examination in U.S. District Judge William J. Martini’s court this morning.

After a brief sidebar, Calicchio responded that he had recorded “Mr. Belfiore, Mr. Gonzalez and Mr. Romano” as part of his deal with the government.

Perry Belfiore is a longtime operative in the 4th Ward who routinely opposed former Mayor Dawn Zimmer and the candidates she supported, while Gonzalez unsuccessfully ran for the 5th Ward council seat in 2015.

Zimmer was backing incumbent Peter Cunningham in the 5th Ward, who prevailed in that race.

While Romano was not on the ballot in 2015, he supported the group of candidates backed by 3rd Ward Councilman Mike Russo, which included Gonzalez.

The subject matter of the tapes, or when they were made, was not discussed, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Rahul Agarwal confirmed that tapes were admitted as evidence in this case.

“We turned over a number of recordings made with a number of individuals and we don’t believe that Mr. Raia is on any of those tapes,” Agarwal told Martini.

As was reiterated yesterday during Calicchio’s initial testimony, he pleaded guilty last month to participating in vote-by-mail fraud schemes in connection to the 2013 and 2015 municipal elections in Hoboken.

His criminal complaint says that two candidates benefitted from Raia’s alleged VBM scheme in 2015: candidate 1 was said to have Calicchio and William Rojas working for them, while candidate 2 is only described as the chair of their own election committee.

After cross examination and it appeared that Calicchio’s meaningful testimony may be over, Agarwal decided to finally shed some light on the 2015 aspect of the case.

“In 2015, you weren’t working for Mr. Raia, right,? Agarwal questioned.

“Yes,” Calicchio answered.

“Which candidate were you working for?,” Agarwal followed up.

“Eduardo Gonzalez,” Calicchio responded.

While under the initial direct examination from Agarwal, Calicchio also affirmed that Bluewater Operations, a Clifton-based consulting firm run by Ryan Yacco, had been helping Raia and the One Hoboken team in 2013.

“We were friends at one time and we’ve worked together. Frank wanted to hire somebody to write the checks so he didn’t have to. He didn’t want to write the checks, he wanted to circumvent the ELEC process so he didn’t have to show all the checks,” Calicchio said when asked why Yacco’s services were solicited.

He continued that Raia felt if he wrote one big check to Bluewater and they wrote all the small checks, he wouldn’t have to disclose all the voters receiving $50 checks.

“I delivered the payment to Bluewater, at an office in Clifton, directly to Yacco and he was provided a list of voters to write checks to,” Calicchio also said.

Under cross examination, Zegas constantly put Calicchio’s credibility under siege, honing in on the fact that the testimony he had given yesterday and today contradicted what he told a grand jury on June 5th, 2017.

Zegas said according to those transcripts, Calicchio stated he never had any knowledge of a VBM scheme in Hoboken, never gave a check to anyone who did not work, never told anybody who to vote for, never received a blank ballot and was unsure of Dio Braxton’s role in the 2013 campaign.

Additionally, Zegas also made it a point to mention that Calicchio had not filed any tax returns in two years, despite living in an affordable housing unit, and still owes approximately $9,000 to his attorney in this case.

Nevertheless, Agarwal took a few moments to reassert his position that Calicchio’s testimony this week was credible.

“I just wanted to tell the truth and come clean. It was the right thing to do,” Calicchio said after explaining he lied in order to protect himself and others like Raia “from situations like this.”

Brian Cardino, who was the senior elections clerk investigator in 2013, took the stand around 11:15 a.m. this morning and will resume testimony after the lunch break.

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  1. We knew them when: https://youtu.be/pUqkH_2AgmE

    Light the corners of my mind
    Misty water-colored memories
    Of the way we were
    Scattered pictures,
    Of the smiles we left behind
    Smiles we gave to one another
    For the way we were
    Can it be that it was all so simple then?
    Or has time re-written every line?
    If we had the chance to do it all again
    Tell me, would we? Could we?
    Mem’ries, may be beautiful and yet
    What’s too painful to remember
    We simply choose to forget
    So it’s the laughter
    We will remember
    Whenever we remember…
    The way we were…
    The way we were…were…..

  2. So all that “work” Nancy of the Cave and the Ravibots did pointing the finger at Ruben Ramos and slandering his name is wrong. They insisted on being wrong when it was obvious Raia would not be supporting Ramos in 2015 for council. Being that Raia had his own ticket in 2013 against Ramos how would that make any sense? Of course, it didn’t. Morons.

  3. The coverage of this trial has been fascinating. Thank you John. Raia may not ultimately be convicted, that will be up to the jury, and neither we nor they have heard all the evidence yet. But win or lose the feds have performed a great service for Hoboken just by bringing this case to trial and shining light on this scam.

  4. Oh Nancy is really off her meds today! Egged on by the $750,000 man Stan Grossbard and her pal Mark, she again falsely guesses names and now some on in that GA Psycho Ward suggest HCV to suspend commenting on all Hoboken stories…
    Guess they learned from Bhalla, if they don’t agree throw them out and pay a Civil Rights settlement later!

    • Not true! “The cave” (Freudian for “uterus” or “womb”) has only banned Vicious and Nasty Two-Faced Tony, the Bigot-Horse and his foul-smelling horse-turds, and the Overgrown dead cat-limerick writing Sikh-offending Photo-shopper! I get it. It’s hard to be bested by a woman. Makes you MAD. Maybe one day, you will find a “cave” of your own to plant your seed in, and watch it grow. (Chances may improve if you wash your hair, launder your clothes, clean the dirt from under your fingernails and brush your teeth. Think about it!) Until then, keep juicing LIMES, and wash your hair, for G-d’s sake! LOL!!!!!!

      • Nancy…. Lecturing anyone on weight and cleanliness?
        The Cave refers to Sybil’s Cave and a word play on your multiple personalities you idiot!
        Nobody cares what gender you are, especially the neighbors who have to take you to court!

        • What a slob! No one cares what Ravi’s donut eating machine says. Anyone think she’ll get her head out of the Russo sphincter any time soon? She’s a big fat liar and likes it there!

  5. Can we get back to the trial please. John has done an excellent job of writing this up and Horsey has provided some good commentary as well. Nothing of substance from Nutso Nancy.

    • You’re still alive? I thought you’d crossed the rainbow bridge. Got your strength back to writing limericks about people’s dead pets?

      Shame you didn’t get credit for your world-famous photoshop. You really should have. We’ll have to FIX that! KKK-Kurt!

  6. First off I don’t know what comments or not are Roman’s unless a pick up the phone and ask. Secondly I am doing better each day, thanks for asking. Thirdly can we get back to the trial please. Fourthly Nancy is still nuts; in fact nuttier than ever. Just look at the last post.

    • so you picked up the phone to find out which posts were nancy’s?

      when do you think roman will analyze the work raia and yacco did for defusco? compare paid workers, vbms, stuff like that? because ga will. why don’t you pick up the phone and ask.