In a stunning development in the ongoing vote-by-mail fraud investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Hoboken politico Frank Raia has been indicted, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.Â
Frank Raia, 67, and Dio Braxton, 43, both of Hoboken, were charged with conspiracy to violate the federal Travel Act for causing the mails to be used in aid of voter bribery, contrary to New Jersey state law, during the 2013 election, authorities said.
A federal grand jury charged them today, while Lizaida Camis, a conspirator, was charged by indictment on October 17th.
Under state law, registered voters are permitted to cast a ballot by mail rather than in-person. To receive a mail-in ballot, voters must complete and submit to their County Clerkâ€™s Office an application for vote-by-mail ballot (VBM application).
After the VBM application is processed by the County Clerkâ€™s Office, voters receive a mail-in ballot.
From October 2013 through November 2013, Raia allegedly instructed Braxton and other conspirators to pay certain Hoboken voters $50 if those voters applied for and cast mail-in ballots in the November 2013 Hoboken municipal election.
Conspirators provided these voters with VBM applications and then delivered the completed VBM Applications to the Hudson County Clerkâ€™s office, authorities said.
After the mail-in ballots were delivered to the voters, the conspirators went to the votersâ€™ residences and, in some cases, instructed the voters to vote for Raia and in favor of a ballot referendum relating to rent control that he supported.
Conspirators promised the voters that they would be paid $50 for casting their mail-in ballots and told them that they could pick up their checks after the election at Raiaâ€™s Hoboken office, officials said.
Bank records show that voters living in Hoboken received $50 checks from an entity hired by Raiaâ€™s political action committee. The entity is yet to be identified by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Hudson County View first reported last month that Raia was the chair of a PAC that sought to loosen the city’s rent control laws, Let the People Decide, which paid Camis twice during the tail end of the 2013 mayoral campaign.
The criminal complaint notes that Raia was the chair of an unnamed political committee and “the PAC, at Raia’s direction, paid a company (“Entity l”) to print checks for voters.”
Raia, also a former chairman of the North Hudson Sewerage Authority, and Braxton each face a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the conspiracy charge.
â€œI canâ€™t stress enough how big of a deal this is for Hoboken. Every Hoboken election is crafted around the impact of the ‘paid for votes.’ This puts a big face on the practice and hopefully puts an end to it as well,” said 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher.