Hoboken politico Raia convicted of VBM fraud in connection to 2013 municipal elections

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After about a day-and-a-half of deliberations, a federal grand jury has convicted longtime Hoboken political Frank Raia of vote-by-mail fraud in connection to the 2013 municipal elections.

Frank Raia, far right, pictured with friends at a football game. Facebook photo.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

During closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Rahul Agarwal reminded the jury that former Raia loyalists/operatives, who the government routinely referred to as “captains,” Matt Calicchio, Michael Holmes and Freddie Frazier, all testified Raia put them up to offering low-income residents $50 in exchange for their vote-by-mail ballot in 2013.

In that race, Raia ran on the “One Hoboken” ticket headed by then-4th Ward Councilman Tim Occhipinti and also sought to have a ballot question that would have loosened the city’s rent control laws pass.

A good portion of the trial focused around the Let the People Decide super PAC, an entity that was controlled by Frazier and Andrew Canonico, a childhood friend of Raia, but they both testified that Raia was still the driving force behind the organization.

While several witnesses testified as part of a cooperation agreement, that did not seem to matter to the jury, who were obviously not swayed by Raia’s proclamation that “I never bought a vote in my life!” during his own testimony on Thursday.

The jury spent their morning, from about 9:30 a.m. until about 12:30 p.m., listening to a court reporter read testimony from six witnesses.

Those witnesses were Brian Cardino; a former Senior Hudson County Board of Elections Clerk Investigator, Andrew Canonico; the treasurer for Let the People Decide and four voters: Latasha Swinton, Marquitha Allen, Patricia Tirado and Tracy Stepherson.

Afterwards, U.S. District Court Judge William J. Martini read back to the jury charge number 27, which pertained to assessing the credibility of witnesses.

To that point, Martini told the jury that they had to review the opportunities and abilities the jury had to evaluate the circumstances of which they were testifying, noting that “you may decide that the witness is not worthy to believe.”

Martini scheduled Raia’s sentencing date for October 3rd at 10 a.m., where he faces a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla applauded the jury’s decision, stating it’s the first step to moving on “from the corrupt politics of the past.”

“Today’s guilty verdict is an affirmation that no one is above the law, and those that commit voter fraud will be exposed and brought to justice,” Bhalla said in a statement.

Given the revelations exposed by the trial that additional criminal activity took place in 2015 and other election cycles, further investigation by law enforcement will help ensure that voter fraud is rooted out of Hoboken once and for all. It is long past time for a clean break from the corrupt politics of the past.

Additionally, 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, who attended parts of the trial, expressed a similar sentiment about the verdict.

“There are a lot of people today saying ‘finally.’ This is a decisive moment of Hoboken and hopefully the end of the ‘paying for votes’ schemes that have impacted the results of our local elections for years.”

Raia, along with some friends and family, were silent after the verdict was read and immediately exited the courthouse.

Alan Zegas, Raia’s defense attorney in the case, declined to comment on the verdict and family members placed a suit jacket over Raia’s head as they walked out of the courthouse to ensure that press could not get a clear picture of his face.

“The defendant in this case tried to rig a Hoboken municipal election by voting multiple times, both for himself and for a ballot question that he supported,” U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said in a statement.

“He did so by deploying his loyal foot soldiers to buy votes from people who he thought were in need of money, and then creating a phony cover story to conceal his tracks. Fortunately, neither federal law enforcement nor the jury was fooled. Today’s verdict underscores this Office’s continued dedication to uncovering, investigating and prosecuting acts of corruption at every level of New Jersey government.”

 

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information. 

58 COMMENTS

    • Forget wives, the better news is Ravi Bhalla won’t be calling Frank Raia an asset to Hoboken anymore. Ravi and Michael Russo have a problem.

        • When Raia invest $9000 to elect Defusco.

          Raia used Defusco’s guy Yacco to launder the cash.

          DeFusco looking dirty is back trying to playing the victim card.

          • Did Ravi Bhalla apologize for calling Raia an “asset too Hoboken?” Put that question on a piece of paper and tape it on a door. That’s a cave-sewer story!

        • Desperate DeFusco trying to damage control and distancing himself from Raia and Yacco. Raia funded DeFusco mayoral campaign last year. When it came to public attention DeFusco donated around five grand he took from Raia to charity and refused to address thousands more. DeFusco’s full time year round political public relation’s firm trying to deal with the negative fall out DeFusco’s online crew still making their usual personal attacks are succeeding in making him look like a sleaze.

    • Thanks for getting me close enough so I could blame losing on the flyer. Without the team of Raia, Yacco and Brice I’d have to face the truth.

      • Give it a rest Nancy. You Ravibots suck, no one is forgetting how you depicted this town and exploited voters in 2017. Maybe law enforcement will get to that dirty illegal deed too. You’ll be so happy with that truth coming out? No, you’ll hide it in your sewer cave like your life depends on it.

        • I get it, everyone who posts here is “Nancy” – she is living in your empty LIME-skull rent free. “Nancy” finds you strange and creepy, a nutcase, and a bore.

          • Hi Nancy, yeah, we know it’s you. What a maroon, what a loon, what a traitor to reform. The truth hurts and you cover it up! #RaviTerrorFlier

        • Defusco’s 325 Raia-Yacco votes aren’t going away no matter how many times and ways you Ramosbots try to change the subject. We understand that YOU no longer care about vote buying, but other people don’t have that luxury.

          • But Nancy is the one changing the subject. That’s why she’s here, to deflect from Pupie and Ravi’s love of 💩.

            Ravi Bhalla says Raia is an asset to Hoboken.
            Everyone is covering it, NJ.com, Hoboken Horse and HCV.
            It’s making her more koo-koo for coco puffs. 🙀

          • the subject is raia convicted in a vote bribery scheme. try reading the article title. it’s natural for anyone but a ramos-defusco propagandist to inquire about defusco’s 325 vbms courtesy of the convicted felon and his money launderer yacco. did defusco really not know what those two were doing and have been doing since forever? as for hoboken horse, we’ll have to take your word for what’s there. no one reads it. his disinterest in defusco’s 325 raia yacco served vbms is a good indicator of why no one reads it.

          • Ravi got on his knees to Raia, an “asset to Hoboken”
            Nancy Russo can’t lie her way out of it. She can stay on the Russo Klan broomstick but it’s grounded. Nothing will get it off the ground. 😂🙀👹🤡🤑🤓

    • “we” know it’s you? Who is “we”?

      How many of you are there inside your dried LIME skull? “we” also know Roman is f*cking nuts! 😂

      To think that you once mattered in Hoboken. Now you’re a lowly multiple-screen name troll with a100% Bounce dead blog, shilling for the Ruben and Defusco Dark Siders. I never would have thought you’d turn so rotten. Pathetic a$$! Better hurry, there’s a LIME scooter idling on your corner… RUN! Run! Run! Don’t wanna miss that $4 payday! 😂

      • Everyone knows your paid political operative spew here Nancy and no one is buying. HCV and HobokenHorse do great work proving it again with the Raia trial and the follow-ups. Go do a Ravi “story” on a post-it note. You suck and are a big FAT liar! Choke on a Twinkie, you slob.

        • Paid political operative.

          Everyone knows Councilwoman Fisher publicly and repeatedly asked Hoboken residents to fund Roman’s failing political web site, Fisher still has her solicitation to fund him on her Facebook page. Fisher DeFusco Ramos Gianttino and Cunningham are running for reelection in November. So who is a paid political operative ?

  1. Justice is done for 2013! On to 2015 and 2017. Lots of perps still out there and lots of canaries reortedly already singing.

    • Yes, there’s the little matter of the terror flyer in 2017. Can you imagine that one getting revealed?

      Let’s see, Romano was taped. He wasn’t involved in 2013 or 2015.

      Didn’t Matt C. testify something to the effect that the One Hoboken ticket was created to ensure that Ramos didn’t win? Was anybody trying to ensure that DeFusco didn’t win in 2017? Those polls were running pretty close there at the end.

  2. Guilty! There had been some questions from jurors but the correct verdict was reached. Now we await sentencing. Frank has done some good things for the community but buying votes was not one of them.

  3. Justice is late here but well deserved. This practice from Raiai went on far too long. Look at all the years he was on the school board.

  4. Raia took the art of stealing votes to new heights after he was invited to start electing politicians with his VBM tricks in 2007

  5. “Frank shares our commitment to preserving open space and creating more parks, ballfields and affordable housing for our families. I urge everyone to support Frank Raia in Tuesday’s election” — Carol Marsh, 2007

    • “For too long, Hoboken has given the County much more than it has received. Frank Raia understands the past and the future of Hoboken, and will work to benefit all of Hoboken. He knows the “players” at the County level and has a good working relationship with them, but he is independent and not beholden to them or to the political agendas of others. ” -Dawn Zimmer

      • Who introduced Dawn to Pupie? She certainly didn’t know him from a hole in the wall in 2007 until a seasoned player suggested he was “a friend of ours.”

  6. Stan and Dimwit Dawn regularly dined with the likes of Frank and still with DAVE 48% increase ROBERTS

    Good for thought

    #DawnTheSham

    • 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.

  7. Ravi tried to get 5 votes for Frank back in 2016 for the NHSA seat. He couldn’t get 5 votes and do Zimmer’s bidding. Then he flipped for Gardiner because he had no choice because he had the 5 votes. That was one example where he did not move the needle in Zimmer’s favor. Could you imagine the fallout if he was serving on the board today?

    • If Bhalla had used Raia and Yacco in the last election for over 300 vbms? Or if Kurt and Roman judged all vote buying by the same standard instead of looking the other way when Defusco and Ramos do it? That gets harder to imagine every day.

    • Yeah I could imagine Ramos doing something similar. Where is the evidence? Bring it on. DeFusco not so much. But Ruben is a possibility. Now Ravibotulism is on the rise with his support of Raia in 2016.

  8. It is nice to see Hudson County politics trying to clean up. Late 1980s I described Hoboken as a tight-knit group of family and friends that do each other favors and also look the other way when necessary. Hopefully much has changed

  9. Oh one would think absentee minded DawniStan and her vile blogger would keep quiet on carol given carol never had to vacate her office, decline to run because of a bad water deal’s hidden bills and a diary scandal.
    But now they are trying to tie carol to Dawns elevator operator Pupie

    Her dawn sings poops praises

    ““For too long, Hoboken has given the County much more than it has received. Frank Raia understands the past and the future of Hoboken, and will work to benefit all of Hoboken. He knows the “players” at the County level and has a good working relationship with them, but he is independent and not beholden to them or to the political agendas of others. ” -Dawn Zimmer”

    • Raia backed an funded DeFusco to the tune of $9400 last year. Raia used DeFusco’s campaign guy Yacco as his bank last year. All the tries at deflecting only makes DeFusco look dirty.

  10. Good to see the Hobokens old tradition of buying votes has resulted in some severe consequences. Makes you wonder how that will impact elections going forth. Seems obvious that the players who have benefited from VBMS are going to have to come up with a new Grift, or accept they will never get political power in Hoboken again. For ANY grifters that this takes down, no matter what side of the aisle they sit on, this is a good thing.

  11. “Frank’s support for my 2nd and 3rd elections demonstrates he is committed to building a better Hoboken for “new” and “old” Hobokenites. After walking the streets of the 4th Ward with Frank, I realized he is truly committed to the people of Hoboken. From the senior citizens to student athletes, Frank is quick to extend a helping hand and Hoboken has benefited from his devotion to the community. His support has been essential in my fight to bring open space to Hoboken; helped to get the Open Space Fund passed; and placed me in a better position to strongly advocate for parks in the 4th Ward and across Hoboken.

    Frank has been criticized because as a developer and a businessman he used his expertise to make money. I believe that if elected to the Board of Freeholders, Frank will use that expertise to insure that our tax dollars are used to benefit the people of Hoboken. Hoboken is currently facing a serious financial problem at the City level, and now, more than ever, needs a leader with real experience in managing our financial future. Frank Raia built his business from the ground up, and as Freeholder, he will combine his experience with his commitment to the people of Hoboken.

    Thank you,
    Dawn Zimmer
    4th Ward Councilwoman

  12. You sure are a kook. Is spamming this board and pretending everyone is “Nancy” your substitute for a life? MSV is a toxic waste dump- ghost town. Check your own Alexa link: 100% BOUNCE, 4 seconds avg visit (down from 7l. Don’t insult HCV–professional reporter– with a your false equivalency to your florid, syntactically-challenged drivel. To put it simply: you suck. It is so creepy how you keep talking about “Nancy’s” body. Have you checked a mirror lately? You disgust all women, you flabby hunchback. Go find a bell tower to swing from! Hunchback! 😂

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