Vas Denies Latest Corruption Charges

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NEWARK – Assemblyman Joseph Vas (D-Perth Amboy) was back in court last week for an arraignment on a federal indictment filed last month. The embattled lawmaker pleaded not guilty to the charge of circumventing the contribution limits and reporting requirements of federal campaign-financing law.

Also present at the arraignment was Vas’ former longtime mayoral aide, Melvin Ramos, who pleaded not guilty to the same charges.

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According to the indictment, Vas was aware and approved of Ramos using straw donors to finance his 2006 run for Congress. Ramos allegedly recruited donors, paying them cash and receiving checks written to the Vas campaign from them in the same amount.

The new charge was added to the original federal indictment filed in May, in which Vas and Ramos were accused of mail fraud and corruption. Vas also faces state corruption charges.

Last month, Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts suspended Vas’ pay and benefits. The lawmaker’s attorney blasted the move, claiming that the suspension is “flagrantly in violation of constitutional guarantees, including the presumption of innocence.”


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