Longtime Hoboken politico Frank “Pupie” Raia has been found guilty of “conspiracy to violate the federal Travel Act for causing the mails to be used in aid of voter bribery” in connection to a 2013 municipal election.
The sentence was delivered on June 25 after the jury deliberated for just under two days in the trial that was held at Newark Federal Court.
The felony charge could result in a prison term of up to five years and a $250,000 fine.
Raia was at the center of a vote-by-mail bribery scheme in which he directed campaign workers to pay residents $50 for voting for his council slate and for a referendum that would have weakened rent-control laws at the time.
Over the four-day trial, which began last week, the jurors heard testimony from witnesses and voters who were allegedly paid for their votes, as well as those who allegedly worked for Raia during the election and allegedly helped him with the scheme.
They included Matthew Calicchio, who in May pleaded guilty in Newark federal court to using mail to promote voter bribery in the 2013 and 2015 municipal elections. He also signed a cooperation agreement with the government.
Calicchio said he worked at Raia’s direction in 2013 and testified that Raia allegedly targeted low-income residents and as part of the scheme, the vote- by-mail ballots allegedly had to be unsealed when they were dropped off at Raia’s office at 520 Jefferson St. or the voters would not be paid.
“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,” said Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla. “Given the revelations exposed by the trial that additional criminal activity took place in 2015 and other election cycles, further investigation into voter fraud 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.”
For more information on the case check out our past articles at hudsonreporter.com