The Hoboken City Council will vote on a resolution tomorrow asking the offices of the state attorney general and Hudson County prosecutor to open a probe into the “terrorism” flyer related to the 2017 mayoral race.
The resolution asks the AG’s office and HCPO to identify who produced and distributed a flyer with a picture of then-Councilman-at-Large Ravi Bhalla that said “Don’t let TERRORISM take over our town!” with a paid for line from 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco.
No evidence has surfaced to show that either DeFusco or Bhalla were involved with the incident and both have denounced the tactic.
Both DeFusco, as part of the council majority, and Bhalla called on the AG’s office to investigate last month after they learned they had issued subpoenas in a similar case in Edison.
At the time, all six elected leaders were in agreement that anyone involved should be brought to justice.
During their 2017 mayoral contest, a campaign mailer was distributed that said “Make Edison Great Again” as well as “Chinese and Indians are taking over our town.”
“It wasn’t just two Hoboken elected officials who were victimized, it was our whole Hoboken community. Having the offices of the attorney general and the Hudson County prosecutor lead the investigation would allow for the most independent review and prosecution of the case including members of Hoboken’s own government if necessary,” explained 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher.
“Like we are seeing in Edison, Hoboken deserves the resources of the highest level of law enforcement to reopen and solve this cold case.”
While the Hoboken Police Department closed the case after suspects couldn’t be identified, even with the aid of the FBI and the Secret Service, Police Chief Kenneth Ferrante has indicated it would be reopened in the event new evidence is presented.
“Having my name associated with a racist and bigoted flyer that I had no involvement in was devastating to me and my family,” DeFusco said this evening.
“It’s unfathomable that nearly four years later we have yet to bring justice to those responsible and this case deserves to be investigated by the highest level of authorities to protect the integrity of future elections. I have stood against this rhetoric since day one and my family and I welcome a new, more thorough investigation to finally vindicate my name from this hateful act.”
Like many resolutions, the measure in front of the council is non-binding. The AG’s office and the HCPO both declined to comment.
The Hoboken City Council will convene tomorrow at 7 p.m. via Zoom and the meeting will stream live on the city’s Facebook page.
Editor’s note: This story was updated with a comment from 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco.