Ana Camilo, a campaign staffer working with Perth Amboy City Council candidate Jeanette Rios, has been arrested on bribery charges for offering gift cards to voters in exchange for votes. Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone announced charges of third-degree bribery against Camilo this afternoon.
According to the prosecutor’s office, Camilo offered voters ShopRite gift cards if they allowed her to fill out their absentee ballots for her preferred candidates. The office received word of Camilo’s actions on October 17, and sent an undercover officer to investigate; posing as a Perth Amboy voter, the officer allowed Camilo to fill out their absentee ballot and received a $20 gift card in return.
Camilo was arrested immediately afterwards, with the absentee ballot still in her possession.
Rios is a candidate on the Vote for a Better Tomorrow slate, which also includes Councilman Joel Pabon and Junior Iglesia.
Perth Amboy’s nonpartisan election for three at-large council seats has drawn nine candidates, divided into three slates each led by an incumbent member of the council. Mayor Helmin Caba and the Perth Amboy Democratic organization have endorsed a rival slate to Rios’s, led by Councilwoman Milady Tejeda.
Shortly after Ciccone announced the charges, Tejeda’s Moving Perth Amboy Forward slate called on Rios and her running mates to drop out of the race.
“There is nothing more sacred and personal than a person’s vote, and it is shameful that a campaign staffer … would illegally purchase votes in an effort to defraud the larger Perth Amboy community,” Tejeda’s slate said in a joint statement. “Perth Amboy deserves quality representatives in elected office and the illegal actions undertaken by the Column F team have no place in our community.”
This story was updated at 2:38 p.m. with more details from Prosecutor Ciccone’s release. It also corrects the spelling of the defendant’s name: it is Ana Camilo, not Anna Camillo. It was updated again at 3:46 p.m. with comment from Councilwoman Tejada’s slate.