Grand jury looking at Cryan election issue

You may remember that the last election for chairmanship of the Union County Democratic Committee was contested with Nick Scutari beating back a challenge from Colleen Mahr, 412 – 341 which may have been a little too close for Scutari who, according to, is looking for a state grand jury to agree with him.

A state grand jury has been empaneled to explore matters related to the February filling of five Union Township Democratic county committee  seats during a February special election for Union County Democratic chairman.

Two sources with knowledge of the investigation that spoke on the condition of anonymity said State Sen. Joseph Cryan (D-Union), the Union Township Democratic municipal chairman, is the subject of the grand jury’s inquiry.

Cryan attorney Tim Donohue did not immediately return a voicemail seeking comment left at 2:56 p.m.

An attorney for State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden), a candidate for county chairman at the time, claimed in a February letter to Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi that the seats were never vacated.

A subpoena commanding Rajoppi to appear before the grand jury on December 20 was issued Thursday. The subpoena orders the county clerk to produce all documents related to the county committee’s February 21 special convention and the election of the county chair on the same date.

Rajoppi did not immediately return a 4:16 PM call seeking comment.

The subpoena was signed by deputy attorney general Eric C. Cohen, who is assigned to the corruption and fraud unit of the attorney general’s office.  Cohen joined state government in January after eleven years as a staff attorney at Paul Weiss, a New York law firm.

Scutari’s complaint included affidavits from Ricardo McNeil, Versie McNeil, Lucia Prisco, and Tamese Cohen, four of the five county committee members who are said to have resigned. In the filings, the four say they did not resign.

The resignation documents attached to Scutari’s complaint were not signed by the committee people and were instead signed by Cryan with notes saying the resignees’ signatures were not available, the document says.

The sources said investigators for the State Attorney General’s Office have conducted interviews related to the matter in Union Township.The Attorney General’s office declined to confirm or deny the investigation as a matter of policy.

The special election for county chairman was called after Assemblyman Gerald Green (D-Plainfield) resigned in January for health reasons.

Scutari won the race 412 to 341 over Fanwood mayor Colleen Mahr.  Cryan backed Mahr, and delivered all 93 votes from Union Township to her.

The controversy over the committee seats was first reported by InsiderNJ in February.


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