Edison has hired a high-level former prosecutor to help guide the township counsel through the Attorney General Gurbir Grewal’s probe of a racist flyer in the 2017 election.
Vaughn McKoy, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney and director of the state Division of Criminal Justice, will serve as special counsel to the council’s Committee of the Whole, which had been investigating the circumstances around a mailer promising to “Make Edison Great Again,” and alleging that the “Chinese and Indians are taking over our town.”
Two weeks ago, the attorney general’s office subpoenaed evidence assembled by Edison officials on the cold case and after being pushed by Edison Mayor Thomas Lankey, Council President Robert Diehl, Councilman Sammy Joshi and Assemblyman Erik Peterson (R-Franklin) to step up their investigation, has empaneled a grand jury.
State prosecutors have already begun to interview local officials, the New Jersey Globe has learned.
McKoy, a former Assistant New Jersey Attorney General, has handled criminal and civil prosecutions for the government and for private sector clients.
On a tape obtained by the New Jersey Globe, Councilman Ajay Patil said he witnessed Satish Poondi, a partner at the Wilentz law firm, assembling that racist mailer at the home of the Democratic Municipal Chairman, Mahesh Bhagia, in 2017.
Bhagia is now the pick of the local Democratic organization as their candidate for mayor.
Lankey and six members of the township council had scolded Grewal for his failing to investigate the unsolved mystery even after a detective from his office told the local police chief in January 2018 to stand down because the attorney general’s office was taking over the investigation.
Until Grewal’s move earlier this month, Lankey, Diehl, and others had complained that state or county prosecutors for interviews or to turn over evidence they have gathered.
In Hoboken, where a nearly identical incident appeared within a few days of the 2107 Edison flyer, local officials have asked Grewal to include them in the grand jury probe – something Gov Phil Murphy appears to support.
The subpoena, approved by Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson, was requested by Special Assistant New Jersey Attorney General Michael McDonald of the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability.