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Announcement from Attorney General

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Posted: Thursday, September 3, 2009 3:40 pm

ATLANTIC CITY COUNCILMAN MARTY SMALL AND 13 INDIVIDUALS WHO WORKED ON HIS MAYORAL CAMPAIGN INDICTED ON CHARGES THEY CONSPIRED IN FRAUDULENT MESSENGER BALLOT SCHEMES

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 today on charges they conspired to commit election fraud during the June Democratic primary through a variety of schemes involving messenger absentee ballots.

According to Director Deborah L. Gramiccioni, the Division of Criminal Justice obtained a 10-count state grand jury indictment charging Councilman Small, who is also director of after-school activities for the Atlantic City School Board, 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 second-degree charges of conspiracy and election fraud carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison. The charges stem from an ongoing investigation led by the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau and the State Police Official Corruption Bureau South Unit.

"Councilman Small and his co-defendants are charged with seeking to corrupt the election process," said Attorney General Milgram. "We charge that they disenfranchised voters by destroying messenger ballots that were voted for Small's opponents and submitting ballots as votes for Small from people who never received them. This conduct is a violation of the fundamental right to vote and the right of the electorate to have their vote counted."

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

$ 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.

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$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.

"Our investigation into alleged fraud in the June 2009 Democratic primary in Atlantic City is ongoing," said Director Gramiccioni. "The State Police and the Division of Criminal Justice are pursuing all leads, and I urge any voter with information to contact our confidential tip line, 1-866-TIPS-4CJ. The assistance and cooperation of voters is crucial in these investigations."

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;

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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.

The case was presented to the state grand jury by Deputy Attorney General Anthony Picione, who is deputy chief of the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau, and Deputy Attorney General Robert Czepiel Jr.

The investigation was led for the State Police Official Corruption Bureau by Lt. John Redkoles, Detective Sgt. 1st Class Karl E. Ulbrich, Detective Sgt. David A. Smith, Detective Sgt. John Pizzuro, Detective Scott Orman, Detective Anthony Carugno, Detective James Sansone, Detective David Caracciolo and Detective John Scalabrini. Deputy Attorney General Peter Lee assisted for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau.

Assistance was provided in the investigation by the State Police Official Corruption Bureau North Unit, State Police Intelligence Management Bureau, State Police Casino Gaming Bureau, State Police Organized Crime Control Bureau, and the Atlantic County Sheriff's Department.

Second-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison and a $150,000 fine, while third-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Fourth-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Maria Marinari Sypek in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Atlantic County, where the defendants will be ordered to appear in court at a later date to answer the charges.

A copy of the indictment is linked to this release at http://www.njpublicsafety.com/">www.njpublicsafety.com.

Attorney General Milgram and Director Gramiccioni noted that the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau has established a toll-free Corruption Tipline 1-866-TIPS-4CJ. Additionally, the public can log on to the Division of Criminal Justice Web page at http://www.njdcj.org/">www.njdcj.org to report suspected wrongdoing. All information received will remain confidential.

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