PATERSON – Courts have postponed Thursday’s hearing scheduled for Thursday in the New Jersey Attorney General’s election fraud case against Paterson City Councilor Michael Jackson to March 16.
Jackson – who is running for mayor – said he believes the state is delaying the case so that the indictment against him stays in place and tarnishes his reputation when Paterson holds his election in May. The city councilor accused Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration of using criminal process to help his ally, the current mayor of Paterson, Andre Sayegh.
“The attorney general’s office has no interest in taking my case to justice,” Jackson said. “They have absolutely no evidence against me.”
Jackson predicted the charges would drop after the May election.
The attorney general’s office has given no response to Jackson’s claims. Court officials said the adjournment stemmed from a timeline set by the judge regarding pending legal motions in the case.
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Sayegh expressed confidence in the Attorney General’s handling of allegations of electoral fraud.
“We know the attorney general’s office is honorable in its pursuit of justice, especially when public trust has been betrayed,” the mayor said. “I am confident that the Attorney General’s office will continue to take all necessary steps to ensure the integrity of the election in Paterson.”
Meanwhile, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Sohail Mohammed is due to render a ruling next week on whether another city councilor indicted in the voter fraud case, Alex Mendez, can seek intervention before the trial. The attorney general’s office has already denied Mendez’s PTI request and appealed the decision to the judge.
If admitted to the PTI, Mendez could have the charges against him erased if he complies with the terms of the program. Mendez’s lawyer said he would only accept the PTI if conditions allowed him to stay on city council. Mendez is also running for mayor in May.
Paterson Press asked Sayegh if he was concerned that Jackson and Mendez came forward against him in May.
Sayegh said he took office shortly after a corruption scandal, a reference to the official misconduct conviction of former mayor Joey Torres. Sayegh said he had “restored integrity and stability to Town Hall”.
“We cannot allow individuals who did not accomplish anything significant during their tenure to bring our city back to a time of dysfunction and corruption,” said the mayor.
Neither Mendez nor his lawyer responded to messages seeking their comment on the story.
A February 2021 indictment charged Mendez with seven crimes: electoral fraud, postal ballot fraud, unauthorized possession of ballots, forgery of public documents, forgery or tampering of records, false registration and attempted forgery. registration.
The most serious charge – voter fraud – is a second degree offense carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. This charge is based on the allegation that Mendez registered someone to vote in Ward 3 even though he knew the person did not live in the electoral district.
Jackson, meanwhile, has been charged with five of the same criminal charges Mendez faces, except for the two counts of false recording. The voter fraud charge against Jackson accused him of submitting a completed mail-in ballot for someone while allegedly knowing that the voter had not made the candidate selection listed on the ballot.
Joe Malinconico is editor-in-chief of Paterson Press.
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