Hoboken man pleads guilty to participating in 2015 vote-by-mail fraud scheme

10

A Hoboken man pleaded guilty in federal court this morning to his role in a citywide vote-by-mail fraud scheme during the 2015 municipal elections, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

William Rojas, 69, had been charged in January of violating the federal Travel Act by using the mail system to aid the voter bribery scheme. He admitted to his role on Tuesday before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini in Newark federal court.

Rojas is one of several to plead guilty to similar charges in a widespread investigation that has ensnared a number of political operatives in the Mile Square City, and resulted in a guilty verdict in the trial of Frank “Pupie” Raia earlier this year.

Raia, the Hoboken developer and longtime figure in the local political scene, was found guilty in June of orchestrating the scheme during the 2013 election – when he ran for an at-large council seat at sought to loosen the city’s rent control laws via ballot referendum.

His scheme, which sources said began in 2009 when state law changed to ease requirements for voting by mail, involved paying low-income residents $50 to vote as he directed on vote-by-mail ballots.

Sentencing for Raia, which was originally scheduled for October 3rd, has been postponed and a hearing on a motion for a new trial is currently set for October 21st.

While Raia’s trial focused on the 2013 election, Rojas’ guilty plea is specifically related to the 2015 election, when the city’s six ward council seats and three school board seats were up for grabs.

From September through November of that year, Rojas worked for an unnamed candidate for the Hoboken City Council and paid voters $50 to cast mail-in ballots as directed for the November 2015 Hoboken municipal election, prosecutors said.

Rojas would provide these voters with their applications and told them they would get paid $50 for casting mail-in ballots for the unnamed candidate. He would then review those ballots and, after the election, deliver checks to those voters, according to authorities.

Rojas could not be reached for comment. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is currently scheduled for February 20th.

Matthew Calicchio is another city resident who admitted to participating in the scheme in 2015. He has since pleaded guilty, has testified against Raia and is scheduled to be sentenced on November 7th, officials said.

During testimony, Calicchio told prosecutors he had worked for candidate Eduardo Gonzalez, who unsuccessfully ran for the 5th Ward council seat.

Calicchio also told prosecutors that he worked for a council candidate who directed him to arrange payments for voters, which were drawn from a campaign account of a second candidate’s campaign account, according to his charging documents.

In a statement, Mayor Ravi Bhalla applauded the U.S. Attorney’s Office for securing their fifth plea or convicting in their ongoing probe into voter fraud.

“Paying cash for votes will never be tolerated in Hoboken, and I thank the federal authorities for helping root out this illegal activity from our City,” he said.

“We must redouble our efforts to stamp out voter fraud and protect the integrity of our elections.”

 

Editor’s Note: This story was updated with a comment from Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla.

Follow Corey McDonald on Twitter @cwmcdonald_

10 COMMENTS

  1. “From September through November of that year, Rojas worked for an unnamed candidate for the Hoboken City Council and paid voters $50 to cast mail-in ballots as directed for the November 2015 Hoboken municipal election, prosecutors said.”

    Hmm, now who could that possibly be? Let me guess…

  2. Calicchio already testified that he worked for Eduardo Gonzalez in the 5th ward. The largest number of VBMs (by FAR) came out of the 1st and 4th wards. Gotta believe candidates in those wards are sweating. Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving bunch of political sleaze bags.

    Just a reminder that Raia, who’s currently appealing his recent conviction of vote buying, donated almost $10k to Mike DeFusco’s mayoral campaign. And well golly gee whiz, Mike’s the councilman in the 1st ward, elected in 2015. Just sayin’.

    • Oh just a reminder that in 2015, Mike DeFusco was connected to vote-buying, the year he was on Dawn Zimmer’s ticket? So you just linked that crime to Dawn Zimmer and Frank Raia. Good work.

      • So you’re admitting it’s a crime. Yet you publish Defusco’s Vision Media press releases and support his smear campaigns.

  3. All the supporters of the Ramos/Giattino/Fisher/DeFusco ticket and their Vision Media handlers are mighty quiet on this one, hmm. Word on the street is one person in particular is sweating up a storm right now.

    Karma, baby.

    • There’s no one who tried and clearly failed to link Candidate 1 to anyone incorrectly but Nancy and LindaStan. The word on the street is that the entire stupidity of trying to link Candidate 1 downtown and the plan to try to put it on others disintegrated under their utterly stupid fabrications.

      The Feds state that Candidate 1 is uptown and connected to Fox Hill Gardens as the accused, the unfortunate Willie resides in that location.

  4. You can hear a pin drop. Where are all the anti-BhallaBots, calling everyone sad, disgusting morons? It’s almost as if juvenile name calling doesn’t stand up to real-world facts. Imagine that.

    • You are a bunch of sad, disgusting morons. All of you from Nancy to LindaStan assured everyone and anyone who was stupid enough to read your dumbass predictions saw how wrong you were.

      Nancy and LindaStan ran a campaign claiming in opposition to any logic saying the Candidate 1 was downtown Hoboken. It was so utterly stupid as Matt Calicchio was working uptown where his grandmother lives in Fox Hill Gardens.

      Even though that simple fact among others was obvious to many, that didn’t stop Nancy and LindaStan from slurring away with their dream fabrication. They were so desperate to “link” others to the downtown accused. We all know the dirty plan they were looking to do next.

      But it all blew up in their stupid faces.

LEAVE A REPLY