Vas Campaign Leader Pleads Guilty To Corruption Charge

TRENTON –  A man who served as a leader of the 2006 congressional campaign of state Assemblyman Joseph Vas pleaded guilty today to soliciting fraudulent campaign contributions, Attorney General Anne Milgram and Criminal Justice Director Deborah L. Gramiccioni announced.

According to Gramiccioni, Raymond Geneske, 73, of Perth Amboy, pleaded guilty before Superior Court Judge Frederick P. DeVesa in Middlesex County to a third-degree charge of financial facilitation of criminal activity, commonly known as money laundering.

In pleading guilty, Geneske admitted that he solicited employees of the City of Perth Amboy and others to make fraudulent contributions to Vas’ 2006 campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives for the 13th Congressional District.  At the time, Geneske was chairman of the Perth Amboy Democratic Committee and was a key advisor to the Vas campaign.  Geneske admitted that he paid cash to the people he solicited to reimburse them for writing personal checks payable to “Vas for Congress.”

Geneske said he was given a total of $30,000 in cash, and distributed $25,000 or more through payments to straw contributors. He said that, under Vas’ direction, he distributed the remaining $4,000 to $5,000 for get out the vote efforts for the campaign.  According to officials, Geneske is guilty of money laundering because he knew or should have known the money was derived from criminal activity, and by structuring funds into the campaign through people who falsely appeared to be making personal contributions, he avoided a transaction reporting requirement under the federal election campaign laws.

“This guilty plea represents a significant step forward in our prosecution of this corruption case, which involves a fraudulent scheme to illicitly pump cash into Vas’ congressional campaign while concealing the source of the money,” said Milgram.

The state will recommend that Geneske be sentenced to a term of probation, officials said.  He is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 14.

On May 21, Vas, 54, the former mayor of Perth Amboy, and his longtime aide Melvin Ramos, 53, were indicted on numerous charges, including charges related to the fraudulent campaign contributions.  In connection with that scheme, they were charged with conspiracy and official misconduct, both in the second degree, and third-degree money laundering.  They allegedly requested city employees to solicit campaign contributions during work hours, solicited city employees and others during work hours, and used city facilities and property for campaign activities.

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