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Paterson councilman Michael Jackson pleads not guilty in election fraud case

Councilman Michael Jackson pleaded not guilty on Thursday to election and voter fraud charges.

Jackson appeared virtually for his arraignment hearing. He told the court prosecutors in the case failed to provide him discovery or evidence against him that he is entitled to as a defendant.

Deputy attorney general Eric Cohen said Jackson will be provided the discovery in a couple of weeks. Jackson will be extended a plea offer soon after the discovery information is provided, he said.

Passaic County judge Ernest Caposela said Jackson would have a year to decide whether to take the plea.

A grand jury indicted Jackson on five counts:

  • Election fraud (2nd Degree)
  • Fraud in casting mail-in vote (3rd Degree)
  • Unauthorized possession of ballots (3rd Degree)
  • Tampering with public records or information (3rd Degree)
  • Falsifying or Tampering with Records (4th Degree).

Jackson allegedly submitted “one or more” fraudulent ballots to the Passaic County Board of Elections during the May 2020 election. The voter, known to the grand jury, did not make candidate selections on the ballot, according to the indictment. He is also accused of delivering or submitting via postal service mail-in ballots without signing as a messenger. He also allegedly had in his possession mail-in ballots that he was not authorized to have.

Jackson appeared without a lawyer at the hearing. He told the judge he is the process of retaining an attorney.

Jackson was one of four men charged for voter fraud linked to last year’s municipal elections. Councilman Alex Mendez was also charged with voter fraud and election fraud. Two of councilman Shahin Khalique’s campaign workers, including his brother, were charged as well.

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