NEWARK, N.J. – A former candidate for the Hoboken City Council and a campaign worker were charged today by a federal grand jury with conspiracy to promote a voter bribery scheme by use of the mail, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Francis Raia, 67, of Hoboken, New Jersey, was a candidate for city council in 2013. Dio Braxton, 43, of Hoboken, worked for Raia’s campaign. A federal grand jury charged them today with conspiracy to violate the federal Travel Act for causing the mails to be used in aid of voter bribery, contrary to New Jersey state law, during the 2013 election. Lizaida Camis, a conspirator, was charged by indictment on Oct. 17, 2018; her case is pending.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Under New Jersey law, registered voters are permitted to cast a ballot by mail rather than in-person. To receive a mail-in ballot, voters must complete and submit to their County Clerk’s Office an Application for Vote By Mail Ballot (VBM Application). After the VBM Application is processed by the County Clerk’s Office, voters receive a mail-in ballot.
From October 2013 through November 2013, Raia instructed Braxton and other conspirators to pay certain Hoboken voters $50 if those voters applied for and cast mail-in ballots in the November 2013 Hoboken municipal election. Conspirators provided these voters with VBM applications and then delivered the completed VBM Applications to the Hudson County Clerk’s office. After the mail-in ballots were delivered to the voters, the conspirators went to the voters’ residences and, in some cases, instructed the voters to vote for Raia and in favor of a ballot referendum that Raia supported relating to rent control. Conspirators promised the voters that they would be paid $50 for casting their mail-in ballots and told them that they could pick up their checks after the election at Raia’s office in Hoboken. Bank records show that voters living in Hoboken received $50 checks from an entity hired by Raia’s political action committee.
Raia and Braxton each face a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the conspiracy charge.
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 indictment.
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.
The charges and allegations in this indictment, and against Camis, are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.