Thursday, June 20, 2019

Frank Raia makes last desperate play at his voter bribery trial

With the defense taking less than a day, Frank "Pupie" Raia took the witness stand in Newark at his federal trial to defeat the testimony of former political allies and friends against him.

He pointed the finger right back at those who accused him of being the Vote-by-Mail king in a voter bribery scheme.

"I wasn't involved in what they were doing," Raia offered by way of a defense.

Raia was responding to a trio of government witnesses who flipped and pled out for a reduced sentence (Matt Calicchio) or agreed to testify in lieu of prosecution (Michael Holmes & Freddie Frazier).

The government screws turned and turned hard.

Frank Raia (l) with Freddie Frazier and Patty Waiters at this 2016 City Council meeting up for another NHSA term.
He's up for a different kind of term in Newark on trial for allegedly directing a voter bribery scheme.

Read the rest of the breaking coverage this afternoon at the Hudson County View:

FBI to Hoboken voter fraudsters, class is in session

Yesterday at the Frank Raia voter fraud trial, the US Department of Justice conducted a master class how to expose and take down a virulent, targeted voter bribery scheme.

Sandwiched between two flipped Raia Social Club election soldiers and a NJ ELEC campaign investigative director, one FBI Happy Warrior operations specialist.

She presented a 2013 version of a 2010 investigative report highlighted in a NY Observer feature bringing the Hoboken tradition of voter fraud out of the shadows.

Bravo Jackie Matthews!

More to come.

12:10 Update

First, a brief update exclusive as the prosecutors officially rested their case electing not to bring further witnesses and specifically noted to Judge Martini late Wednesday they were withdrawing the anticipated testimony of Liz "Church Lady" Camis.

Bayonne based political operative Jack Butchko testified as a witness for defendant Frank Raia Thursday morning. He alleged Matt Calicchio had a falling out with Raia prior to the 2013 campaign and performed no role in the campaigning. That puts his testimony squarely in conflict with Michael Holmes and Freddie Frazier who both intimated that Calicchio was part of the Raia campaign efforts in the same year, specifically to buy votes for $50 using Vote by Mail.

Contradicting Butchko, defense witness Anthony Petrosino who was sitting for days in the courthouse hallways awaiting his opportunity to be a witness in the trial. He contradicted Butchko saying Calicchio was in fact around for the 2013 campaign in his later testimony.

Also testifying as character witnesses for Raia: Father Alex Santora the old guard priest at Our Lady of Grace, Carteret Mayor Daniel J. Reiman where Raia has built affordable housing and Frank Leanza, an attorney who has worked for the North Hudson Sewerage Authority in Hoboken.

Leanza's name last came up in 2016 when the NHSA seat was highly contested between Raia and Hoboken reform advocate Kurt Gardiner. Alleged conflicts of interest between Raia and Leanza erupted in that appointment contest.

Then-councilman Ravi Bhalla lobbied hard for Frank Raia to get another five-year term. He came up short, flipped his council vote and followed with a bizarre lecture in the council meeting at Gardiner, displaying his unhappiness with the reform upset victory.

Hudson County View wrote of the pending voiced bitterness by Ravi Bhalla ON BEHALF of Frank Raia:

... Ravi Bhalla gave a long-winded speech about how Raia was more than qualfied for the position and is, and hopefully will continue to be an asset to the City of Hoboken - whether or not he's reappointed.

At the rate of witness appearances; it appears the jury may hear closing arguments on Monday. Meanwhile, everyone awaits the final word on whether Frank Raia will take the stand in his own defense.

Afternoon update: As noted in the comments, Frank Raia did take the stand today. Expect our Mile Square View colleagues at Hudson County View to detail the testimony first.

On Monday, closing arguments will then follow with Judge Martini turning the case over to the jury for deliberation.

Migdalia Pagan Milano Calls on DeFusco to Remove Ryan Yacco from his Council Campaign

Official release:

Migdalia Pagan Milano, a candidate for Ward 1 Council, today called on Councilman Mike Defusco to remove his campaign manager, political consultant Ryan Yacco from his Council campaign.

Yacco’s and  Matt Calicchio’s testimony in the Frank Raia vote buying trial yesterday revealed that Yacco through his firm, Bluewater Operations was at the center of the vote buying scheme, writing more than $15,000 worth of checks to individuals paid $50 each to vote for Raia and against rent control.  According to witness testimony, the money was funneled through Yacco’s firm as a way to hide the transactions and avoid campaign finance reporting requirements.

Migdalia Pagan Milano said, “I call on Councilman DeFusco to remove Ryan Yacco from his campaign.  Mr. Yacco was at the heart of an illegal vote-buying scheme. We must send a message that this kind of blatant political corruption is no longer tolerated in Hoboken.”

Migdalia Pagan Milano is a lifelong resident who began working with the community as an assistant in the Cultural Affairs Department for the City for Hoboken. She was instrumental in organizing Hoboken’s first Pride week. Currently, Migdalia works in the newly reconstituted Department of Constituent Affairs where she effectively finds solutions to residents’ day to day issues. 

Ryan Yacco is DeFusco's campaign manager and served in that capacity in his Mayoral campaign as well. He also worked on Peter Cammarano's mayoral campaign.