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14 indicted in Atlantic City voter fraud case September 3, 2009

Posted by jefhenningeresq in News.
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Back in June, I blogged about the arrests of David Callaway and Luquay Zahir.  In that post I said “Another issue I would want to know as an attorney for either man is if anyone else was involved.  If so, that information could go a long way.”  Guess what?  I was right to wonder who else was involved.  What seemed like a voter fraud case involving just a couple of guys turns out to be a massive case involving over a dozen people.  Hopefully, some of these people had good attorneys that made good use out of the last few months but for some reason, I doubt much was done.

TRENTON – Attorney General Anne Milgram announced that Atlantic City Councilman Marty Small and 13 individuals who worked on his unsuccessful 2009 mayoral campaign were indicted on charges they conspired to commit election fraud during the June Democratic primary through a variety of schemes involving messenger absentee ballots.

The Division of Criminal Justice obtained a 10-count state grand jury indictment charging Councilman Small and 13 campaign workers and operatives. Each defendant is charged with conspiracy (2nd degree), four counts of election fraud (2nd degree), absentee ballot fraud (3rd degree), tampering with public records (3rd degree), falsifying records (4th degree) and forgery (4th degree). Four defendants are also charged with hindering apprehension or prosecution (3rd degree).

The indictment alleges that Small and the other defendants conspired to commit election fraud through the following schemes:

  • They allegedly solicited applications for messenger absentee ballots from individuals not qualified to receive them and had the voters not fill in the name of the messenger, so they could fraudulently designate themselves as the authorized messengers or bearers.
  • They allegedly obtained messenger ballots from the county clerk and submitted them to the board of elections as votes on behalf of voters who, in fact, never received or voted the ballots or, in some cases, were given only the security envelope for the ballot and were told to sign it. Those voters were not given the opportunity to vote in most instances.
  • They allegedly picked up sealed absentee ballots from voters, unsealed them and, if they were votes for mayoral candidates other than Small, destroyed them, thereby disenfranchising those voters. If they were votes for Small, they allegedly resealed them and submitted them as votes.
  • They allegedly illegally instructed voters to fill in messenger ballots as votes for Small.
  • They allegedly submitted voter registration applications and messenger ballot applications on behalf of individuals who were not residents of Atlantic City, falsely representing they were.
  • They allegedly forged the signatures of voters on messenger ballots.
  • They allegedly fraudulently delivered messenger ballot applications and messenger ballots to voters simultaneously and instructed the voters to fill out both during the same visit.

Small and the indicted members of his campaign staff allegedly sought to maximize the number of absentee ballots messengered by the campaign by enlisting operatives and campaign workers to engage in fraud and by paying campaign workers based on how many messenger ballots they collected. The workers allegedly were told to direct voters to vote for the Small ticket, or simply have the voters sign the ballots so the workers could fill them out as votes for the Small ticket.

The campaign allegedly held an “autograph party” at which messengers selected by Small or by other defendants would fill in their own names as designated messengers on absentee ballot applications where that information had been left blank by the voters.

The indictment charges the following 14 defendants: 

  1. Marty Small, 35, of Atlantic City;
  2. Luquay Zahir, a.k.a. Luqua McNair, 34, of Atlantic City;
  3. David Callaway, 46, of Pleasantville;
  4. Floyd Tally, a.k.a. Floyd Harrell, 39, of Atlantic City;
  5. Mark Crumble, a.k.a. Johnny Crumbles, 48, of Atlantic City;
  6. Tracy PiJuan, 37, of Atlantic City;
  7. Michele Griffin, 30, of Atlantic City;
  8. Toni Dixon, 52, of Atlantic City;
  9. Demaris Jones, 27, of Atlantic City;
  10. Ramona Stephens, 48, of Atlantic City;
  11. Ernest Storr, 43, of Linwood;
  12. Thomas Quirk, 57, of Ventnor;
  13. Dameka Cross, 34, of Smithville; and
  14. Ronald Harris, 23, of Atlantic City.

Callaway, Zahir, Tally, Griffin and Dixon were previously charged by complaint in connection with the alleged illegal campaign activities.  Small, Pijuan, Storr and Quirk are the four defendants named in the count of the indictment charging third-degree hindering apprehension or prosecution. They allegedly provided false information to investigators.

There is a good chance that this case (like others going on right now) could ensnare others over time as there is still much to learn about exactly what went on, who was involved, etc.

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Instructor charged with tampering with boating safety course records June 23, 2009

Posted by jefhenningeresq in News.
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Arthur Coakley, of Hinck Drive  in Wall, New Jersey was arrested at his home Monday by state police. He is charged with tampering with public records for allegedly  improperly passing an applicant at a boater safety course. 

An undercover state trooper went to a boater safety course, held at a shop in Fairview, Cumberland County and taught by Coakley.  After the trooper paid his tuition, he was allegedly given a certificate of completion for the program which is generally an 8-hour course.  Coakley then allegedly entered the incorrect course location and date of the class in the state’s boater safety certification database.

In any case like this, the first thing I think about is an entrapment issue.  However, it is clear that the State Police were tipped off about this from someone else.  Question is, does that person want to come forward or not?  I’m kind of surprised that an arrest was made without first trying to talk to him first.  I doubt that the State Police have a clear idea as to how many people didn’t take the test.  They could either ask him or talk to everyone who he administered the test to.  I doubt he’s talking now so it seems like they don’t care about the other people that didn’t take the course.

Story is here.