MILE SQUARE VIEW EXCLUSIVE FEATURE
Whispers early this week suggested the massive vote by mail (operation) was being scrutinized and well underway by Monday night. Based on the filed affidavits with the NJ Superior Court, investigators specializing in election law began speaking with residents of the Hoboken Housing Authority and collecting evidence. The evidence in the Lenz for Council complaint, if accurate shows an ongoing operation of vote buying.
Inquiries to a small group of residents produced several alleged cases where housing authority residents admitted to being paid for their vote supporting Tim Occhipinti's campaign in the amount of $40 each. According to the affidavits, residents also identified the individuals involved in the payments for votes.
The two people identified in the complaint are Hoboken 4th ward resident Matt Calicchio and Hoboken perennial officeholder/candidate Frank Raia. The investigation into additional allegations is not over and is in fact still underway.
Word travels quickly in the Hoboken Housing Authority and inquiries quickly got around and apparently back to Tim Occhipinti's campaign. An all hands on deck call led to a dead of night midnight meeting Monday at Tim Occhipinti's campaign headquarters. Another possible problem for Occhipinti's campaign is an OPRA request for leasing information in the housing authority made by the Lenz for Council campaign with a copy forwarded to them. (Residency issues will certainly come up with more examples of illegal voting after lease data is examined.) The two problems together may have spurred the late night call to arms.
Among those in attendance in the Monday midnight meeting were candidate Tim Occhipinti, campaign manager Jamie Cryan, third ward Councilman Mike Russo, his mother Michelle five-dollars-a-tow Russo, Weehawken political operative James Barracato, and Hoboken411 ghostwriter Lane Bajardi.
Although it's not clear with certainty why the midnight meeting took place, it's not beyond concluding the vote for pay inquiries by an investigator along with leasing data in the Hoboken Housing Authority were both valid if unequal factors for concern.
MSV has acquired exclusive video of the midnight meeting participants Monday night. In the video Tim Occhipinti is seen in a white shirt and tie with the other dead of night meeting participants outside of the campaign HQ as it concludes. He later follows Michelle Russo who breaks up the meeting and heads to her car. She can be heard asking if she can have something "tomorrow." Tim Occhipinti is then heard answering her in the affirmative before getting into the back of her illegally parked vehicle.
Councilman Mike Russo seen wearing a red visor then says good night sharing hugs first with Occhipinti campaign manager Jamie Cryan, then Lane Bajardi and finally James Baracatto. He does not hug or shake hands with a fourth unidentified person standing with the other three.
The video ends with Jamie Cryan standing and talking with James Barracato, Lane Bajardi and the fourth unidentified person.
Talking Ed Note: The Lenz for Council complaint filed with the NJ Superior Court will be evaluated on the merits Friday. If the court rules the evidence is sufficient for a hearing, a court date could be scheduled as soon as Monday.
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