After four days of testimony followed by closing arguments this morning, a federal grand jury will convene at least one more time tomorrow in Frank Raia’s Hoboken vote-by-mail fraud trial after the court decided they could not answer a couple of their requests in a timely fashion.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
After closing arguments and the jury charge took up the morning, and even a small part of the early afternoon, the jury spent about two hours deliberating the case over lunch.
The government had argued that the evidence was clear that between witness testimony, bank record and reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, it was clear that Raia had bought votes for $50 from low-income residents six years ago.
At the time, he was running for council-at-large with Tim Occhipinti, as well as trying to pass a ballot question that would loosen the city’s rent control laws.
However, the defense countered that the evidence was circumstantial and that voters were simply paid to work by the Let the People Decide super PAC and Bluewater Operations during the 2013 municipal races.
Ultimately, the 12-person jury asked two questions that were enough to have U.S. District Court Judge William J. Martini call it an early day inside his courtroom.
For once, they wanted to see the transcripts of six witnesses: 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.
Furthermore, they asked the question: “Can concealed ballots be brought to an election headquarters?,” Martini explained.
Given that a court reporter would have to read each transcript to the jury, coupled with the fact that all transcripts were not immediately available, Martini opted to excuse the jury early, at approximately 2:50 p.m.
He said that court will be reconvening tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.