Thursday, May 30, 2019

Frank "Pupie" Raia sidekick Dio Braxton pleads guilty to voter bribery scheme in Hoboken 2013 election

Official release:

USAO NJ Seal 3
                                   United States Attorney - District of New Jersey


NEWARK, N.J. – A Hoboken, New Jersey, man today admitted his role in a conspiracy to promote a voter bribery scheme during a municipal election, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced. 

Dio Braxton, 43, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini in Newark federal court 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.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Braxton and others, at Raia’s direction, participated in a scheme to pay certain Hoboken voters $50 each if those voters applied for and cast mail-in ballots in support of Raia’s city council campaign and a rent control referendum that Raia supported. Braxton and others working for Raia provided voters with vote-by-mail applications and then either mailed or delivered the completed applications to the Hudson County Clerk’s office. After the voters completed mail-in ballots, Braxton and others working for Raia either mailed or delivered them to the Hudson County Clerk’s Office. 

After the election, Braxton and others handed out $50 checks to voters from an entity hired by Raia’s Political Action Committee. Before handing the checks to voters, Braxton and others working for Raia required the voters to sign declarations stating that they had worked for the campaign. In reality, many of these voters never actually worked for the campaign and these declarations were merely a way for Braxton, Raia, and others to hide the fact that the voters had been paid for their votes. 
Braxton faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 10, 2019. 

Raia was previously indicted on the same charge and is awaiting trial. The charge against him is merely an accusation, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

U.S. Attorney Craig 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 today’s guilty plea. 

The government is 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.

Defense counsel: Vincent J. LaPaglia Esq., Hoboken

Hoboken needs a bigger public safety push on e-Scooters

Director Ryan Sharpe riding an e-Scooter and not protecting the noggin.
It's an opportunity missed for public education, an uphill battle
in the new world of e-Scooter transportation. Oh yeah, bad form
all around.
Ending week one of the Hoboken e-Scooter pilot allows a chance for evaluation and necessary self-criticism.

The Hoboken pilot didn't kick off too well. Any educational efforts leading into the launch were inadequate with the public response strong in favor and in opposition. All agree continuous education is necessary.

Talking over the weekend to a man and woman traveling on the upper Washington St. sidewalk; it was clear they didn't have any idea they were doing anything wrong. They admitted they hadn't read much other than to get the e-Scooters rolling.

There was the weekend accident on upper Sinatra Drive too. Two young males tossed caution to the wind and opted to test the Darwinian herd thinning program for humans.

Getting the best balance on the standup Lime requires the use of the entire board: the lead foot straight and rear foot perpendicular forming a "T" is best. That's simply not possible with two adult riders where the engineering is intentionally inadequate.

What is missing from the pilot is a coordinated effort by all public officials to encourage the best safety practices, one of which is to wear a helmet. If nothing, it sends a strong positive message to everyone.

People may argue about statistical data with helmets for cycling and as here e-Scooters. What they fail to understand is merely wearing a helmet delivers a strong positive message to riders, pedestrians and drivers alike.

In testing both types of e-Scooters, it's self-evident drivers give a lot more respect when a rider is wearing a helmet. Call it a psychological ploy, tool or what have you. It's clear drivers show far more deference and respect when the helmet appears.

Another problem is teen use or rather, teen abuse. Parents are helping their kids get on board, pardon the pun, illegally and overlook the 18 years old minimum age requirement.

One teen already with e-Scooter in tow tries to help her
friend get illegal access. 
Some think the kids are grabbing scooters from adults but that's not likely the continuing problem. Late yesterday, two teen females were on upper Hudson Street. One rode an e-Scooter up and down the block as another attempted to obtain some registration approval.

Inquiring if they knew riding on the sidewalk was illegal, both acknowledged awareness. When it was pointed out the shorter girl was seen riding on the sidewalk the other responded with wallet in hand, "Not me."

How did the access come about? The teen girl murmured, "it's my mother's account."

If the Hoboken e-Scooter pilot is to succeed, everyone is going to need to help be best.

Everyone needs to help to set a culture for success.

Councilman Mike DeFusco to kick off Pride Month

Official release:

Hudson County LGBTQ Caucus Will Host Drag Queen Story Hour, Brunch to Kick Off Pride Month
HOBOKEN, N.J. -- The Hudson County Democratic Organization’s LGBTQ Caucus is hosting a drag queen story hour and brunch on Saturday morning to celebrate the beginning of Pride Month. The event will feature Harmonica Sunbeam, who was recently antagonized by hateful protesters in Hoboken, and will allow for a community dialogue to discuss the prejudices and injustices faced by the LGBTQ community.
“A top priority for the Hudson County Democratic Organization is building a community that celebrates our diversity and is inclusive to every voice,” said HCDO Chairwoman Amy DeGise. “We live in one of the most diverse places in the nation and it is important that we ensure all of our neighbors are treated equally and justly. The LGBTQ community has helped make Hudson County the incredible place it is and June is about recognizing those contributions and accomplishments. I’m looking forward to beginning Pride Month with a celebration of our rich culture and continuing the discussion to build a more inclusive community.”
Saturday’s event will be held at Antique Bar and Bakery in Hoboken.
“The beginning of Pride Month gives us the opportunity to further the discussion of diversity and acceptance in our communities,” said Hoboken Councilman Mike DeFusco, Chairman of the LGBTQ Caucus. “I am proud of the work we have done over the past four years to make Hoboken a more inclusive city and finally achieve a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index. As Chairman of the Caucus, I’m excited to work with each of Hudson County’s municipalities so we can better serve the growing LGBTQ population and achieve true equality.”
Councilman DeFusco represents the neighborhood where Saturday’s event will take place and has been in contact with Hoboken’s Office of Emergency Management to ensure additional safety measures are in place for an enjoyable morning.
WHO: The Hudson County Democratic Organization, Chairwoman Amy DeGise, LGBTQ Caucus Chairman and Hoboken Councilman Mike DeFusco, Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, Harmonica Sunbeam
WHAT: A Drag Queen Story Hour and brunch to kick off Pride Month
WHERE: Antique Bar and Bakery, 122 Willow Avenue, Hoboken
WHEN: Saturday, June 1 from 10 a.m. to noon