TRENTON – A political consultant pleaded guilty today to arranging for deceptive “robocalls” to be made to over 12,000 voters in the June 2009 Republican Primary race for Assembly in the 40th Legislative District, according to Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa.
Kevin Collins, 41, of Brooklyn, formerly of Wood-Ridge, N.J., pleaded guilty today before Superior Court Judge Donna Gallucio in Passaic County to a criminal complaint charging him with violating the Fair Campaign Practices Act, a disorderly persons offense, Chiesa said.
In accord with a plea agreement, the judge sentenced Collins to one year of probation and ordered him to pay a $1,000 fine. Collins also had to apologize in writing to the primary victim of the deceptive robocalls, Ann Mary O’Rourke, former chief of staff to Assemblyman Scott Rumana, (R-40), Wayne.
In return, the state dismissed a fourth-degree charge of impersonation contained in a June 17, 2010 indictment. The charges resulted from an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice and the New Jersey State Police.
In pleading guilty, Collins, a paid political consultant for Republican challengers Joe Caruso and Anthony Rottino, admitted he cooked up automated “robocalls” attacking the Republican incumbents, Rumana and Assemblyman David Russo, (R-40), Ridgewood. He admitted that he obtained the cell phone number of Rumana’s chief of staff, O’Rourke, and “provided it to an independent, out-of-state robocall service so that it would appear that the automated phone message originated from her.”
“The robocall went to over 12,000 residents of the 40th District on the day of the primary, June 2, 2009. The call made disparaging remarks about the incumbents and encouraged recipients to vote against them. The call did not identify the campaign or political organization responsible for it, but featured the voice of a woman who identified herself as “Ann” and falsely displayed O’Rourke’s cell phone number in the caller I.D. as the purported source of the robocalls.”