Judge orders Holley into pretrial program for ‘overzealous’ pursuit of signatures

Superior Court JudgeRobert Billmeier ruled yesterday in favor of Roselle Council President Jamel Holley's admissioninto a pretrial intervention program (PTI),rejectingthe argument for criminal precedings pursuedby thestate Attorney General's Office,whichthis summercharged Holley with third-degree violation of the absentee voting law.

"He was not familiarwith the absentee voting system, and apparently,generally, the absentee voter voted for the candidate of their choice in this Democratic Primary," Billmeir said in his ruling at Mercer County Courthouse in Trenton."The voter signed the certification, and Mr. Holley, being noteducated in this, then filled out an envelope giving the name and address of the absentee voter, and then as the bearer, brought these results, sometimes directlyfrom the voter, sometimes from a third party."

The AG's Office on August 27th alleged that Holley tampered with absentee ballots by completing portions of the ballots of at least 20 voters, subsequently sparking Gov. Jon Corzine to join the chorus of those local Holley oponents calling for Holley's resignation from the Borough Council.

Billmeirmaintained yesterday that there was nothing fradulent about what Holley did on June 6th, 2006 as hegathered absentee ballots and "overzealously," inthe judge'swords, obtainedsome 20 petition signatures. It was not clear today if the AG's Office intends to appeal Billmeir's ruling, which requires Holley to participate in PTI for 12 months, and pay a $125 fine. The rulingupholds his right to remain in office, where he is up for re-election next year.

"Unlike other recent corruption cases, therewas never any allegation that Mr. Holley receved monetary favors in exchange for his assisting (council candidate) Rosemarie Bullock," said Holley's attorney, Melvin Wright, Jr.

"Mr. Holley is still a supporter of Governor Corzine and wants to assist him in getting reelected," Wright added."Mr. Holley holds no resentment against anyone. Hewants to continue to serve the citizens of Roselle -that's what he wants to do more than anything else. He has learned a life lesson andhas matured from the case."

Judge orders Holley into pretrial program for ‘overzealous’ pursuit of signatures