New Jersey Mayor Arrested for 2017 Election Tampering

April 30, 2019 Updated: April 30, 2019

The mayor of Elmwood Park, New Jersey, was arrested April 29 for alleged election tampering.

Frank Caramagna, 74, resigned on April 28, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office said in an April 29 release.

The office’s investigation revealed that Caramagna “had interfered with the secrecy of the election process by completing portions of the Application for Vote by Mail Ballot, Primary Election Ballot Certifications, and General Election Ballot Certifications of registered voters,” the release said.

He was the first Democrat in nearly 50 years to win the mayoral race in the small borough of Bergen County some nine miles northwest of Manhattan. He ran in 2017 against Robert Colletti, a Republican who served as the interim mayor after the previous Republican mayor Richard Mola died in 2016 after 45 years in office, The North Jersey Record reported.

Caramagna was only ahead by three votes on the election night, but after mail-in, provisional, and absentee ballots were counted, his lead expanded to 318. Less than 4,400 votes were cast altogether.

He was released from the Bergen County Jail on April 29 after being charged with one count of interfering with the secrecy of the election process, facing three to five years in prison, disenfranchisement, and a fine of up to $15,000 if convicted. He is scheduled to appear in court on May 22.

“It’s a bit of a shock,” said Elmwood Park Borough Administrator Michael Foligno. “I’ve known Frank Caramagna for many years in his capacity as a council person and then as mayor. But we’ll move forward as a community and as a governing body.”

Tampering Alluded

Former Elmwood Park councilman Anthony Chirdo suggested that Caramagna tampered with the election, during his last public meeting on Aug. 16.

“Mayor, you do an excellent job of absentee ballots,” Chirdo said. “You got 446 absentee ballots last year, which is outstanding, and I’m just curious: Out of those, how many did you actually personally collect?”

Other council members appeared unsettled by the comments. One commented that “it’s illegal” to collect the ballots personally. Others called Chirdo’s comment “so inappropriate” and “so out of order.”

“You never made a contribution since I’ve been mayor here,” Caramagna responded. “Never once you made a suggestion. Always been negative. You tried to fight people. You, as an Eagle Scout—you should be ashamed of yourself, because you make a lot of accusations. Shame on you. I thought you were a better man. You better go away. I’m sorry.”

After the news of Caramagna’s arrest broke, Chirdo responded in a Facebook post.

“I used that time to speak up and outline the borderline unethical behavior of the current Majority. I highlighted the large amount of mail-in ballots that were submitted,” he said. “You can hear the others on the council trying to make me feel ashamed of my comments and that they are inappropriate. … I am not ashamed for speaking up when I see things that are wrong.”

August 16th, 2018 was my last public meeting as a Councilman in Elmwood Park. I used that time to speak up and outline the borderline unethical behavior of the current Majority. I highlighted the large amount of mail in ballots that were submitted… you can hear the others on the council trying to make me feel ashamed of my comments and that they are inappropriate.. I am not ashamed for speaking up when I see things that are wrong.https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/crime/2019/04/29/elmwood-park-nj-mayor-arrested-election-tampering-charges/3620698002/?fbclid=IwAR00zyQSfYt9EVFU9WJfBvuu_utbRcJo-p-laxTbLSSwBxfkarAda66bAp0#

Anthony Chirdo 发布于 2019年4月30日周二

Caramagna succeeded at getting elected on his fifth try. He previously taught Italian and Spanish at Elmwood Park High School and served on the Board of Education.

His term would have expired on Dec. 31. He planned to run for reelection and is on the ballot in the June primary. His opponents are Colletti and another Republican, Magdalena Giandomenico, who is supported by Chirdo.

Follow Petr on Twitter: @petrsvab
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