Frank Raia was sentenced to three months and $50,000.
In the hearing that took place on Dec. 2, Superior Court Judge William Martini encouraged Raia to appeal his sentence, noting that the court had received more than 140 letters asking for leniency, and that more than 35 people showed up to show their support that sentencing.
Prosecutors asked for a sentence of two years claiming the crime was extremely serious. But Martini said the people that testified against Raia were either co-conspirators or others who had something to gain by testifying against him. He said the people who had written were ordinary people who Raia had helped over the years.
Those who testified against Raia included Matt Calicchio, Michael Holmes, and Freddy Frasier part of Raia’s inner circle.
They testified that Raia ran a scheme that involved paying low-income residents $50 to fill out their vote-by-mail ballots in the 2013 municipal elections.
Raia has until March 1 to start serving his sentence, but could serve no time if an appeals court rules in his favor.
“Jesus had only one Judas, Raia had three,” said one of Raia’s supporters after the sentencing.
“Everybody knows prosecutors can indict a ham sandwich and anyone at Frank’s birthday parties knows Frank is a ham sandwich,” said another, suggesting Raia isn’t savvy enough to be as corrupt as prosecutors made him out to be.
Raia was convicted of vote-by-mail fraud in June, has again been delayed and won’t be held any earlier than next month.
Raia, 67, of Hoboken, was a candidate for Hoboken City Council in 2013. He was convicted of one count of 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 that election. The jury deliberated for one day, following a five-day trial before Senior U.S. District Judge Martini in Newark federal court.
“The defendant in this case tried to rig a Hoboken municipal election by voting multiple times, both for himself and for a ballot question that he supported,” U.S. Attorney Carpenito said. “He did so by deploying his loyal foot soldiers to buy votes from people who he thought were in need of money, and then creating a phony cover story to conceal his tracks. Fortunately, neither federal law enforcement nor the jury was fooled. Today’s verdict underscores this Office’s continued dedication to uncovering, investigating and prosecuting acts of corruption at every level of New Jersey government.”
“The health of our democracy relies on the integrity of our electoral system,” FBI-Newark Special Agent-in-Charge Gregory W. Ehrie said. “When people use corrupt methods to work around that system, it deprives every constituent of their right to be heard through their vote.”