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Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe)

Murphy sidesteps on apparent lull in Edison Eight investigation

By Nikita Biryukov, February 19 2021 4:06 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy on Friday sidestepped questions on a growing controversy in the Edison, the state’s fifth largest municipality.

“The Edison incident I remember very well, and it was deplorable. Beyond that, I’ve got no more color on that. That’s not to say I’m not willing to give you color. That’s separate from not talking about investigations. I just don’t have any,” he said when asked if law enforcement should contact local officials over a racist 2017 campaign flyer.

The mailer urged voters to “Stop Jerry Shi and Falguni Patel from taking over our school board.”

“The Chinese and Indians are taking over our Town!  Chinese School! Indian School! Cricket Fields,” it said. “Enough is Enough.”

But an investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspector implicated Shi, the township’s School Board President and eight others — Councilman Ayjay Patil; Wilentz law firm partner and Biden delegate Satish Poondi; former Democratic Municipal Chairman Shariq Ahmad; school board member Mohin Patel; Aloysius Dsouza; Joseph Dsouza; and Rah Bhagia, the brother of Democratic Municipal Chairman and mayoral candidate Mahesh Bhagia — in a conspiracy scandal.

Council President Robert Diehl earlier this week told the New Jersey Globe he and other township officials had not been interviewed by authorities.

Murphy said he had “no insight” on whether Attorney General Gurbir Grewal had recused himself from the case.

Steve Barnes, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, declined to say whether Grewal had done so, citing a policy that apparently bars the release of any information about prosecutorial conflicts of interest.

“It goes without saying that when we decline to confirm the existence of an investigation we would also decline to confirm details of how that hypothetical investigation would be handled,” he said.

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