Hoboken’s Raia, Braxton plead not guilty to VBM fraud, released on $100k bonds

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Two Hoboken men pleaded not guilty in federal court for their alleged roles in vote-by-mail fraud linked to the 2013 mayoral contest, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. 

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Frank Raia, 67, and Dio Braxton, both entered not guilty pleas in front of Newark U.S. District Judge William J. Martini this morning and were both released on $100,000 unsecured bonds, U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Matt Reilly told HCV.

Raia, a former mayoral and council candidate, and Braxton were both charged with conspiracy to execute an illegal vote-by-mail scheme in connection to the 2013 mayoral contest, where Raia was running for councilman-at-large, on Halloween.

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 Clerk’s office, authorities said.

After the mail-in ballots were delivered to the voters, the conspirators went to the voters’ residences and, in some cases, instructed the voters to vote for Raia and in favor of a ballot referendum that Raia supported relating to rent control.

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 Raia’s Hoboken office, officials said.

One conspirator, Lizaida Camis, pleaded guilty to promoting a vote-by-mail scheme last week.

Bank records show that voters living in Hoboken received $50 checks from an entity hired by Raia’s political action committee. The entity is yet to be identified by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Hudson County View first reported 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 Let the People Decide and “the PAC, at Raia’s direction, paid a company (“Entity l”) to print checks for voters.”