Today, NorthJersey.com reported the Elmwood Park mayor was arrested on 2017 election tampering charges

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Joshua Jongsma, North Jersey RecordPublished 4:27 p.m. ET April 29, 2019 | Updated 10:14 p.m. ET April 29, 2019

The mayor of Elmwood Park was arrested Monday after authorities say he interfered in the 2017 mayoral election.

Frank Caramagna, 74, resigned on Sunday, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office said. Between March 2017 and November 2018, Caramagna allegedly filled in ballots of other registered voters, according to the Prosecutor’s Office.

Caramagna was Elmwood Park’s first Democratic mayor in nearly 50 years. He was the first person elected to the post after the death of longtime Mayor Richard Mola in October 2016. Robert Colletti served as the interim mayor after Mola’s 45 years of service.

Colletti was also Caramagna’s opponent in the 2017 election. It was a close election, with Caramagna receiving 2,348 votes and Colletti 2,030. The tally was even closer before mail-in, provisional and absentee votes, with Caramagna holding only a three-vote lead after Election Day. Colletti could not immediately be reached for comment. 

Francesco Caramagna of Elmwood Park
Francesco Caramagna of Elmwood Park (Photo: Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office)

Caramagna was released from the Bergen County Jail on Monday. He did not immediately respond to messages left for him. 

Elmwood Park Borough Administrator Michael Foligno said the Borough Council will likely discuss the situation at Thursday’s meeting. 

“It’s a bit of a shock,” Foligno said. “I’ve known Frank Caramagna for many years in his capacity as a council person and then as mayor. But we’ll move forward as a community and as a governing body.” 

Council President Daniel Golabeck was also surprised.

“He is entitled to full due process,” Golabeck said in a statement. “This resignation will not slow down the council’s work on the important issues we are confronting and working on nor will it affect any municipal services. The business of the borough and the council will continue unaffected.” 

Former Elmwood Park Councilman Anthony Chirdo alluded to ballot tampering during his final meeting before stepping down on Aug. 16, 2018. 

“Mayor, you do do an excellent job of absentee ballots,” Chirdo said at the time. “You got 446 absentee ballots last year, which is outstanding, and I’m just curious: Out of those, how many did you actually personally collect?”

Chirdo was met with a chorus of people on the council saying it was illegal to collect ballots personally, and that he was out of line.

“You never made a contribution since I’ve been mayor here,” Caramagna said to Chirdo during the meeting. “Never once; always been negative. You, as an Eagle Scout — you should be ashamed of yourself, because you make a lot of accusations. Shame on you. I thought you were a better man. You better go away.”

When asked Monday about his 2018 comments, Chirdo said they speak for themselves.

“There was a long history of concern about vote-by-mail ballots over the years there,” he said. “Based on today, those worries seem warranted. It’s a sad day for the town.”

November 2017 marked the fifth attempt by Caramagna to become mayor. The father of three and grandfather of six taught Italian and Spanish for many years at Elmwood Park High School and also served on the Board of Education.

He is on the ballot in the June primary for re-election, running against Colletti and Magdalena Giandomenico. His term expires Dec. 31. 

Caramagna is scheduled to appear in court on May 22. 




Absentees were also key in contested 2017 Lyndhurst election


LYNDHURST — A lot of people didn’t go to the polls in last Tuesday’s municipal election in Lyndhurst — but they made up for it by filing absentee ballots.

Enough, certainly, to make a difference in the tally as the “Lyndhurst Community Pride” ticket, headed by Mayor Robert B. Giangeruso, captured a 4-1 majority on the township Board of Commissioners.

The new lineup will be sworn in at a reorganization meeting slated for Tuesday, May 18, at noon at Town Hall Park, weather permitting. A majority vote by the sitting commissioners will decide who becomes mayor. 

That person, typically, is the commissioner with the biggest vote total.

In last week’s contest, three incumbents were returned to their seats: Giangeruso, top vote-getter with 2,134 votes; Thomas A. DiMaggio, 1,934; and John J. Montillo Jr., running on an opposition “Lyndhurst’s New View: Making it Happen” ticket, 1,775.

Newcomers Karen Haggerty and Richard L. Jarvis Sr., aligned with the Giangeruso slate, who were credited with 1,883 and 1,724 votes, respectively, are the other winners.

Laura Jean Checki, the fifth member of the Giangeruso team, polled 1,721, just three shy of Jarvis.

Incumbents Theodore J. Dudek and Matthew T. Ruzzo, who ran with Montillo, got 1,642 and 1,478 votes, respectively; John Scardino Jr. and Christopher Musto, also teamed with Montillo, netted 1,298 and 1,211, respectively.

And independents Joseph Sarnoski and Elaine Stella collected 1,382 and 721 votes, respectively.

According to the Township Clerk’s Office, a total of 3,549 residents – out of 13,219 registered voters – cast ballots in the election, a turnout of about 26.8%.

All five candidates running on the Giangeruso tickets were the beneficiaries of individual absentee ballot totals ranging from 349 to 374 – triple the typical number of absentees cast in a municipal election, according to several township observers familiar with local voting trends.

Even Montillo acknowledged, during a phone interview with The Observer last week, that, “no doubt, they were a factor in the election.”


If you were approached to have or believe you had ballots filed inappropriately on your behalf in the May 2017 Lyndhurst Commissioners’ election, you can contact the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office at:

Two Bergen County Plaza
Hackensack, NJ 07601
Mon-Fri: (201) 646-2300


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