Guilty plea entered in 2015 Hoboken Vote-by-mail bribery scheme

×

According to an announcement from U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito, William Rojas, 69, resident of Hoboken, has admitted his role in a conspiracy to promote a 2015 voter bribery scheme during a Hoboken municipal election.

Rojas pleaded guilty on Tuesday, Oct. 8 before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini in Newark federal court to charges of conspiring with others to use the mail to promote a voter bribery scheme.

During the 2015 election, six ward council seats and three Board of Education seats were up for election.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court from September 2015 through November 2015, Rojas worked for an unnamed candidate referred to as Candidate 1  in the Hoboken City Council election.

At Candidate 1’s direction, Rojas and a conspirator, Matthew Calicchio, agreed to pay certain Hoboken voters $50 each if those voters applied for and cast mail-in ballots for the November 2015 municipal election.

Rojas provided these voters with vote by mail applications and told them they would get paid $50 for casting mail-in ballots.

After receiving the completed mail-in ballots from voters, Rojas and Calicchio reviewed them to ensure that voters had voted for Candidate 1.

After the election, Rojas delivered $50 checks to the voters whose mail-in ballots he collected.

Calicchio pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme in May and is currently scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 7.

Rojas faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. His sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 20, 2020.

Rojas was one of five people indicted for their roles in vote-by mail Hoboken conspiracy.

Last November Lizaida Camis 55, pleaded guilty in Newark federal court to Count 2 of an indictment charging her with conspiracy to use the mail to promote a voter bribery scheme during the 2013 municipal election in Hoboken.

In May Dio Braxton, 43, pleaded guilty to an indictment charging him with conspiring with Frank Raia and others to use the mail to promote a voter bribery scheme during the 2013 municipal election in Hoboken.

In June, a jury found Hoboken politico and developer Fank “Pupie” Raia guilty of conspiracy to violate the federal Travel Act for using the mail for a vote by mail bribery scheme during the 2013 municipal election.

Raia faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

His attorneys have filed a motion for a new trial in August and according to a brief they will seek to prove Raia did not receive a fair trial and that testimony in the case from witnesses was not credible because they had signed cooperation agreements with the government.

Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark, and special agents of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christina Scaringi, with the investigation leading to Rojas’ guilty plea.

The government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Farrell of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Special Prosecutions Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Rahul Agarwal, Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division.