Superior Court Judge Ernest Caposela suggested today that he may never be able to determine who really won the May 12 race for Paterson City Council, hinting that the best solution to a challenge of the 3rd Ward results is to order a new election.
After a recount, Alex Mendez led longtime incumbent Bill McKoy by 240 votes in a race that attracted the attention of state and federal law enforcement even before the voting ended.
In June, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal charged Mendez and three others with voter fraud.
Mendez is accused of fraud in casting mail-in votes, unauthorized possession of ballots, tampering with public records, and falsifying or tampering with records. He was also charged with election fraud and false registration.
Caposela refused to allow Mendez to take his seat when the city council reorganized on July 1.
In a hearing today, Caposela said he was not inclined to make a find of fact on voter fraud. He said that the multitude of issues, including U.S. Postal Service delays and mismatched signatures, might be grounds to warrant a new election.
Mendez’s attorney, Greg Paster, asked Caposela to count nearly 900 ballots that appear to have been mailed in bulk from three individual mailboxes, including more than 300 rubber-banded together form a mailbox in neighboring Haledon.
Caposela cited Henry Sosa and Santos “Chino” Joaquin with contempt for failing to appear at depositions follow a subpoena. They two played leading roles in the Mendez campaign of Alex Mendez, according to Scott Salmon, McKoy’s attorney.
A special election could be held concurrently with the November 3 general election.