Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo will not seek the resignation of Freeholder Samuel Gonzales, who was indicted yesterday on ballot fraud charges related to the 2007 campaign of his wife, State Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark). Ruiz serves as DiVincenzo's Deputy Chief of Staff, and all three come out of Stephen Adubato's North Ward political organization.
In recent years, state Democratic leaders have quickly sought the resignation of indicted public officials. But sources say that DiVincenzo views the charges against Gonzalez are fundamentally different than those filed against several Democratic legislators and mayors. Attorney General Anne Milgram filed no official misconduct charges against Gonzalez, a one-term Freeholder and an aide to North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos. And the allegations against Gonzalez do not include the exchange of money. DiVincenzo, source says, views this as an important distinction.
The charges against Gonzalez appear similar to those made against Roselle Council President Jamel Holley, who was charged with voter fraud last summer. Holley was admitted into a pretrial intervention program after a Superior Court Judge rejected Milgram's bid to try him on criminal charges. Superior Court Judge Robert Billmeier said there was nothing fraudulent about what Holley did during a 2006 Democratic primary and that he "overzealously" gathered absentee ballots. Holley remains in office, the charges against him will be dismissed if he completes his PTI program.