Two New Jersey City Councilmen Just Indicted on Voter Fraud Charges Initially Filed Last Year

Two Councilmen from Paterson, New Jersey were initially charged for voter fraud last June over election from May 12, 2020. But these charges were apparently in limbo for some time. The original report from the state of New Jersey reads in part:

Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced voting fraud charges against Paterson City Councilman Michael Jackson, Councilman-Elect Alex Mendez, and two other men in connection with the May 12, 2020 special election in the City of Paterson.

All four men are charged with criminal conduct involving mail-in ballots during the election.  The investigation by the Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity & Accountability (OPIA) began when the U.S. Postal Inspection Service alerted the Attorney General’s Office that hundreds of mail-in ballots were found in a mailbox in Paterson.  Numerous additional ballots were found in a mailbox in nearby Haledon.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all voting in May 12 elections in New Jersey was done by mail-in ballots.

According to NorthJersey.com though, the final indictments making their charges more official were just filed last month and initially reported yesterday, March 3, 2021.

Two City Council members — Michael Jackson and Alex Mendez — have been indicted on various voting fraud charges stemming from last May’s Paterson elections, the New Jersey attorney general announced Wednesday. 

The allegations involve the councilmen’s handling of mail-in ballots in the all-vote-by-mail election conducted in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two men — prominent political adversaries of Mayor Andre Sayegh — won their races by more than 200 votes, but they were charged with election fraud about a month after the final results were in.

Mendez had temporarily lost his seat once already, and gained it back while a civil suit had previously ensued.

“These indictments are an important step in our prosecution of these two sitting city councilmen on charges including second-degree election fraud,” Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said. “As we have seen all too clearly in recent months, public confidence in our democratic process is critical. If anyone tampers with an election in New Jersey and threatens that process, we will hold them accountable.”

It’s hard to say for sure if the two will lose their seats now with the indictments finally hitting, triggering a possible special election, or if they will keep their seats while the trial moves forward.

NorthJersey.com also reported:

Ever since the preliminary charges were filed against them last June, Mendez and Jackson have asserted that the criminal case against them was being orchestrated by Sayegh’s political allies in Trenton. In the intervening months, they said authorities have not provided them with any details of the charges against them.

Jackson, who is 49, said on Wednesday afternoon that he thinks his and Mendez’s ongoing recent criticism of Sayegh prompted the Attorney General’s Office to convene a grand jury in the case.

“You would like to think that local politics wouldn’t reach that far, but I guess it does,” Jackson said.

“These indictments reaffirm the seriousness of the crimes for which the defendants are accused,” Sayegh said. “I remain hopeful that justice will be served on behalf of the residents of Paterson.”

It was also reported:

Jackson and Mendez were charged by the state grand jury in separate indictments, Jackson on Feb. 17 and Mendez on Feb. 24, authorities said. They were indicted on charges of election fraud, fraud in casting mail-in votes, unauthorized possession of ballots, tampering with public records and falsifying records. Mendez also was indicted for alleged false voter registration.

Charges against two other men are still pending and not reportedly part of these recent indictments.

The charges filed last June included two other men who worked on Councilman Shahin Khalique’s campaign in the 2nd Ward: his brother, Shelim Khalique, 52, of Wayne, and Abu Razyen, 23, of Prospect Park.

Often voter fraud cases get downplayed in the media or pushed aside as not enough to swing elections either way, but to many people, these cases are very important, regardless of which elections they are for, or which party they adversely affect. Americans want free and fair election with only legal voters all the way from the municipal level to federal elections.