Federal prosecutors have charged a New Jersey political operative with a mail-in voter fraud scheme that involved paying “messengers” to cast ballots in the names of people whom they never met.

Former Atlantic City council president Craig Callaway has been arrested and charged with “procuring, casting and tabulating fraudulent mail-in ballots” in the November 2022 general election, according to U.S. Attorney for NJ Philip R. Sellinger’s office.

Political operative Craig Callaway was arrested Thursday and charged with procuring, casting and tabulating fraudulent mail-in ballots in the November 2022 general election.

Callaway, 64, of Atlantic City, made his initial appearance Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Matthew J. Skahill in Camden, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey.

He could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Callaway is a former Democratic City Council president who was convicted of taking bribes and pleaded guilty to conspiracy for helping blackmail a fellow councilmember. He spent about three years in prison, getting out in 2010.

“Holding free and fair elections is a bedrock principle of our democracy,” U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said in the release. “As alleged in the complaint, the defendant attempted to deprive New Jersey residents of a free and fair election by fraudulently procuring and casting ballots.”

Craig Callaway arrested on voter fraud charges

U.S. Attorney says ex-Atlantic City Council President paid people to get ballots and then cast votes voters didn’t know about

By David Wildstein, New jersey Globe, February 01 2024 12:45 pm

Former Atlantic City Council President was arrested today on charges of setting up a fraudulent scheme to illegally harvest and cast vote-by-mail ballots in the 2022 general election.

Federal prosecutors allege that Callaway and others working for him approached numerous voters in Atlantic City and offered to pay them $30 to $50 to act as authorized messengers for VBM voters. Those messengers allegedly went to the county clerk’s office with one to four applications for a mail-in ballot, waited for them to be processed, and left in possession of ballots.

Instead of delivering the ballots to the voters, they gave them to Callaway. Those ballots never made it to the voters, who federal investigators say never authorized the VBM application or submitted a ballot. Callaway or his team allegedly cast those votes.

“Holding free and fair elections is a bedrock principle of our democracy,” said Philip Sellinger, the U.S. Attorney. “As alleged in the complaint, the defendant attempted to deprive New Jersey residents of a fair election by fraudulently procuring and casting ballots. Today’s charges reflect our office’s commitment to hold to account those who try to undermine the electoral process.”

Callaway spent nearly four years in prison after his conviction on bribery charges.

In a criminal complaint unsealed today, Callaway is charged with one count of “depriving, defrauding, and attempting to deprive and defraud the residents of the state of New Jersey of a fair and impartially conducted election process by the fraudulent procurement, casting, and tabulation of ballots.”

“Voter fraud at any level chips away at the faith people have in our system,” said FBI – Newark Special Agent in Charge James Denney. “We’re unable as American citizens to hold our government accountable if our votes are compromised. The FBI and our law enforcement partners understand the gravity of protecting the process and will bring those criminals who break the law to justice.”

Atlantic County Prosecutor William Reynolds assisted the FBI with the investigation.

Callaway will appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Matthew Skahill this afternoon.

In 2020, seven Democratic county chairmen from South Jersey called on candidates to reject Callaway’s election services.

“Craig Callaway has a long and shameful history of interfering in honest and fair elections,” the county chairs said. “Callaway’s syndicate of allies have even more documented instances of immoral, illegal, and reckless behavior that is unbecoming of our Party — from knife fights, assaults, harassment, threats, and stalking to outright voter fraud — strong-arming voters in poor communities of color to allow Callaway cartel soldiers to vote by mail on their behalf.”

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