A fourth Hoboken resident has been charged with vote-by-mail fraud, the first person to be charged in connection to the 2015 city council races, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.Â
William Rojas, 68, is charged with a violation of the federal Travel Act for causing the mails to be used in aid of voter bribery contrary to New Jersey state law, Carpenito said in a statement.
He is scheduled to have his initial appearance this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor in Newark federal court.
Under New Jersey 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 application is processed by the county clerkâ€™s office, voters receive a mail-in ballot.
From September 2015 through November 2015, Rojas allegedly agreed to pay certain Hoboken voters $50 if those voters applied for and cast mail-in ballots for the November 2015 Hoboken municipal election.
Rojas provided these voters with VBM Applications, told the voters that they would get paid $50 for casting mail-in ballots, and then delivered the completed VBM applications to the Hudson County Clerkâ€™s office, authorities said.
According to the criminal complaint, after the mail-in ballots were delivered to the voters, Rojas went to the votersâ€™ residences to collect the mail-in ballots and mailed the completed mail-in ballots to the Hudson County Clerkâ€™s Office.
After the election, Rojas delivered checks to these voters. Bank records show that voters living in Hoboken received $50 checks from an entity associated with the campaign that employed Rojas, officials said.
As HCV first reported in September, Raia was the chairman of a political action committee, Let the People Decide. that aimed to loosen the city’s rent control laws.
While his criminal complaint did not mention Led the People Decide by name, it alleges that â€œthe PAC, at Raiaâ€™s direction, paid a company (â€œEntity lâ€) to print checks for voters.â€
According to a report filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission on November 24th, 2014, Rojas was paid $50 by Let the People Decide on November 4th, 2014 – almost a full year prior to Hoboken’s ward council races.
Rojas faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.