Following Raia conviction, another Hoboken 1st Ward skirmish breaks out over 2017 contributions


Hoboken 1st Ward council candidate Migdala Pagan-Milano is calling on her opponent Mike DeFusco to return $9,400 in contributions from Frank Raia, who was convicted of vote-by-mail fraud charges yesterday, and the councilman said he has already donated to a local cause.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Early this morning, DeFusco announced that he would be splitting the $5,400 donation, the aggregate amount Raia donated to his 2017 mayoral campaign, to the local American Legion – an organization committed to helping homeless veterans – and the Jubilee Center.

“I have long supported legislation that supports our homeless veterans and helps them rebuild from a vulnerable state,” DeFusco said in a statement. “Politics must work for everybody and the money donated to me from Frank Raia in 2017 has no place in my campaign.”

“Illegal vote buying has tainted the electoral process in Hoboken for decades, stripping residents of their right to let their voices be heard. Frank’s conviction should send a strong message that this type of illegal behavior is unacceptable and those guilty of corruption must be held accountable for their actions.”

DeFusco also noted that Raia has been a regular contributor to Democratic candidates and entities for years, calling on others to follow his lead and donate to a cause.

A couple hours later, Pagan-Milano called on the councilman to give back $9,400, citing the 600 Monroe St. LLC that Raia is a part of, as contributing an additional $4,000 to his campaign in 2017.

“As a lifelong resident, I have seen first-hand the negative impact of political corruption on our city,” she said in a statement.

“It is critical that all Hoboken elected officials send a strong message that political corruption that undermines the integrity of our elections will no longer be tolerated in Hoboken. As the recipient of a large total of $9,400 in contributions from Mr. Raia it is especially incumbent on Councilman DeFusco to return the money. Failing to do so sends precisely the wrong message.”

DeFusco campaign spokeswoman Caitlin Mota dismissed Pagan-Milano’s statement as a cheap political attack, noting that Mayor Ravi Bhalla, who has endorsed DeFusco’s opponent, supported Raia in the past.

“Councilman DeFusco has already donated every dollar personally contributed to his campaign by Frank Raia. I would remind Migdala that her personal political benefactor Ravi Bhalla, the person responsible for signing her paychecks, was a longtime supporter of Frank, referring to him as an ‘asset to the City of Hoboken,'” she explained.

“If Migdalia and Ravi truly cared about this serious situation, they would be calling on everyone who received donations from Raia to return the money instead of taking cheap shots at Councilman DeFusco.”

Team Bhalla campaign spokesman Rob Horowitz called DeFusco’s response “a misleading attack” and chided him for not returning or donating the $4,000 from the Raia-linked LLC.

“Instead of doing the right thing Mike DeFusco chooses to do what he does best, launch a misleading attack. He is simply refusing to return nearly half the money Frank Raia gave him, making a distinction without a difference.”

This isn’t the first time Pagan-Milano has attacked DeFusco over fallout from the Raia trial.

Last week, she asked the councilman to remove political consultant Ryan Yacco from his campaign after he testified, though DeFusco announced shortly thereafter that Yacco was not a part of his re-election bid.

According to records with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, the 600 Monroe St. LLC donated $4,300 to Gov. Phil Murphy (D) about a month before he was elected in 2017.

Records also show Raia making a $3,100 contribution (one from an LLC, one directly) for the state Senator Brian Stack (also the Union City mayor)-linked Union City First organization in 2012, as well as a $500 donation to the Hudson County Democratic Organization in October 2014.

Raia faces a maximum sentence of five years, as well as a potential $250,000 fine, when he goes before U.S. District Court Judge William J. Martini on October 3rd.

The Hoboken ward council races are non-partisan and will take place on November 5th.


Editor’s note: This story was updated to show that the Jubilee Center was the recipient of one of the donations from the DeFusco campaign.

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/hcvcp/public_html/wp-content/themes/Hudson County View/includes/wp_booster/td_block.php on line 353


  1. Migdalia should start explaining how she got into Marineview over others in more need like the man who worked in the City Clerk’s office who lived on crutches, in a 3rd floor walkup and died waiting on the list for a affordable unit there.

    Ravi control’s her paycheck. Migdalia is a puppet

    • DeFusco has a paid spokeswoman and a full time public relations firm, Even giving away the thousands from convicted felon and VBM Hoboken harvester Raia gave him he has suspiciously way too much money to throw around.

  2. Don’t worry Migdalia! we got ya covered… if you win we will hold your cushy 5 hour a day city hall job for you and help you get a LOW or NO show job in Union City ( Make up counter at Rite Aid on Bergen line?). Mike Russo will explain later.
    Ravi will make sure you get your raises too and not loose that easy pension.
    Team Bhalla are experts in double dipping. You’ll see. Just don’t ask questions are read the scripts Vijay and John Allen feed you every morning.
    You aren’t liked nearly as much as you think in the building, your loud music and fighting with everyone isn’t going over well with the neighbors.
    Hope your DHHI is properly filed with management .
    Nobody is replacing Mike with a public dole hack like you!

  3. Well, Ravi is singing a different tune now. He’s singing this tune as he controls the “official” utterances of Pagan.

  4. Soares ran on a ticket with Roberts, Ramos and multiple-times-Raia-endorsement-seeker Marsh (who also ran for Assembly in what’s rumored to have been a Pupie special) with backing from allegedly taped party Belfiore, allegedly taped party Romano and many other potential interesting parties in this context. It remains to be seen whether more recent elections will yield other candidates/culprits who are also interesting in this context, but if so I would be curious which candidate from the 2015 and 2017 election cycles is most likely to be in the spotlight and whether Soares worked on his/her campaign.

    • Dawn Ran in 2007 6 years after you dolt!

      Why didn’t Dawn Zimmer support Ines?
      Posted Jun 5, 2008
      By Carly Baldwin

      Hoboken Now bumped into Fourth Ward Councilwoman Dawn Zimmer on the streets of Hoboken this morning. And so we decided to just come out and ask: Why didn’t she, as a reformer, support fellow reform candidate Ines Garcia-Keim in the Freeholder election?

      “It really was a difficult choice; I met all the candidates. But I decided to support Frank Raia because I think he can get things done; he can bring back the most resources to Hoboken,” said Zimmer. “He has relationships with people on the Board of Freeholders and in the County.”

      Hmmm….what about that theory that Zimmer didn’t support Garcia-Keim because she wants to get in good with the Hudson County Democratic Organization?Dawn laughed out loud when I asked that.

      “My neighbor gave me more money than the HCDO (for her 4th Ward campaign last fall)! I don’t owe the HCDO anything. I’m not their candidate. They can’t tell me who to vote for.”

      “But I do like (Hudson County Executive) Tom DeGise and I want to work with him to get things done,” Zimmer added.

      “The person I was supporting (Raia) was who I thought would be able to bring home the most resources to Hoboken. And in my ward, that’s extremely important.”

  5. Does the candidate want to win? Why doesn’t she share her ideas for the 1st ward? What is it supposed to mean to me? Am I missing something? Is this a good political strategy? I’m missing something here.

    Hoboken politics are ridiculous.

    • Speaking of bigots has Roman even come close to apologizing for his disgusting racist depiction of Mayor Bhalla that he put together and quickly made international news. Has Councilwoman Fisher who still has a solicitation to fund his web site on her ace book page ever publicly spoken out against that racist picture ?

  6. Will Stawn and Danny have Phil Murphy return Raia’s Money?
    Will Bhalla ask the same of Stack too?

    Looks like doesn’t forget the Zimmer Raia alliance

    This isn’t Horse or Sybil’s cave vertically challenged obsession this is a real source’s opinion and reporting of FACTS.
    “Raia’s influence was widespread and he had many political alliances over the years. As a councilman in 2016, Mayor Ravi Bhalla called Raia an asset to the city. And former Mayor Dawn Zimmer backed him for his run for county freeholder in 2008.”

  7. Can anyone name the elected officials, former elected officials, and former candidates that did NOT take contributions from Frank Raia? Also, which of them did not have Matt, Dio, Yacco etc. working on their campaigns?

    John, there’s a lot of stupid sniping all over Hoboken articles and stuff in the comment sections. Would be great if you could put it to rest.

  8. Greetings to the alleged voters of the First Ward. Please understand that until November I need to have my paid high powered politically connected public relations staff make it look that I actually care about you. Truthfully my only real consideration is to those who give me money. Frank Raia and Ryan Yacco brought in huge amounts of money to fill my political coffers and I treasure that their hundreds VBM in my failed attempt to be mayor brought me close enough to second place to pretend I was a real contender. To that end my public relations staff had me give some of the ninety four hundred dollars Frank Raia gave me to charity after he was convicted of massive voter fraud and they thought that since he and Ryan Yacco were viewed as integral part of my campaign crew until the day after the verdict came in, that it could take some of the heat off me. So until November I promise to pretend to care about the residents of the First Ward while solicit as much money from bar owners, pot shop owners electric scooter companies who see me as a way to increase their profits at your expense. Remember it is not what I can do for you but what I and others can do for me and what I see as my incediably vibrant political career.

  9. Migdalia is embarrassing.
    If she’s elected Ravi Bhalla will have power of her paycheck and the job she will have waiting for her when she takes a COSTLY leave of absence from her taxpayer funded job as Geri Fallo’s SECRETARY and GOPHER.
    Imagine Migdalia will always vote in favor of the raises and benefits of employees since she will get those increases upon her return. Why not it’s not like she will be hit with a tax or rent increase at Marineview Plaza where 2 bedroom apartments max out at 1500 per month! Practically free utilities and pizza too!

    • Henrietta going more then a bit over the line but this sort of vicious personal attacks only reinforces the negative nasty perception many in the First Ward already have of DeFusco .

      There is a reason why he is unwelcome in Marineview and other buildings in the First Ward.