ROSELLE—Calls are rising for Roselle Borough Councilman Jamel Holley resign in the wake of criminal charges leveled against him for tampering with ballots in the 2006 Democratic primary for borough council.
Deborah L. Gramiccioni, director of the state division of Criminal Justice, alleged that Holley, 29, violated the state’s absentee voting law, a third-degree crime, which could result in a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $15,000 fine. If convicted, Holley would be required to forfeit his position as a councilman.
Several residents have stated that with criminal charges pending, they believe the borough cannot be served by Holley, a political protege of former Assemblyman Neil Cohen, a former Roselle political boss who is awaiting trial on child pornography charges.
Citing similar calls for officials accused of corruption to step aside made by Gov. Jon Corzine and others, Mayor Garrett Smith said, “I don’t feel that it’s in the best interest of Roselle for him to continue as council president or as a council member.”
“He is accused of manipulating the ballots and influencing the outcome of an election, so these are very serious charges,” said Smith. “With a cloud like that hanging over an elected official, it would not allow him to govern effectively.”
Corzine asked public officials caught up in July’s massive corruption sting to step down, saying they could not be effective with such a serious investigation going on.
“If they want to get back into politics once they are proven innocent, I think that’s fine,” said Corzine.
The accusation charges that Holley tampered with at least 20 absentee ballots, which influenced the result of that election for candidate Rosemarie Bullock. Bullock’s victory was overturned by a Superior Court judge who ruled that absentee ballots collected by Holley were invalid, paving the way for Councilwoman Christine Dansereau’s election.
Neither Corzine nor Assemblyman Joseph Cryan, the Democratic State Chairman whose district includes Roselle, responded to requests for specific comment about Holley, while Dansereau said she “has learned to be patient” and would await the court’s verdict.
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