Atlantic City councilman charged in voter, unemployment fraud
An Atlantic City councilman allegedly falsified voter registrations and then lied to the FBI about interactions about it.
MD Hossain Morshed , 49, is also accused of submitting false unemployment benefits claims of more than $39,000 with the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, U.S. Attorney Phillip Sellinger announced after 6 p.m. Friday.
He was scheduled to make his first appearance before U.S. District Judge Ann Marie Donio in Camden federal court Friday. Morshed could not be immediately reached for comment.
Leading up to the June 2019 primary election, Morshed allegedly gave a prospective voter a voter registration form that had already been filed out and gave a Fourth Ward address. But the address written on the form was not where the voter lived.
Morshed urged the voter to sign the application that April, according to the allegations. He then went to the voter’s real address — which is not in the Fourth Ward — and gave the voter a vote-by-mail application to sign that had the same false Fourth Ward address.
The Atlantic County Board of Elections received the prospective voter’s completed mail-in ballot, which was counted toward the June 2019 primary election, the government alleges.
The prospective voter later admitted not receiving, completing or returning the mail-in ballot, according to the charges.
In legally recorded conversations between Morshed and the voter, the councilman directed the voter to lie if questioned by law enforcement, or to make false representations about where the voter lived, the allegations claim.
Morshed made false statements when FBI agents later questioned him, including claiming that he never provided any voter documents to any prospective voter, never assisted any prospective voter in filling out such documents, and never collected any such documents from any prospective voter, the government alleges. He also falsely claimed stated that he never asked residents of municipalities outside of Atlantic City to register to vote in Atlantic City’s Fourth Ward.
The alleged lies also included applying for unemployment benefits related to the state’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program even though he was earning compensation for his employment as a councilman, with additional income as a driver.
He received $39,208, the documents claim.
The false voter registration submission and false statements counts each carry a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss from the offense. The wire fraud count carries a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss from the offense.
The investigation included the FBI, the Atlantic County and Cape May County prosecutors’ offices, Atlantic City Police Department, State Police, the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General and U.S. Postal Inspections Service in Philadelphia.
Atlantic County Democratic Chairman Michael Suleiman called for Morshed to step down.
“While Councilman Morshed is entitled to a fair and impartial trial, and while everyone is innocent until proven guilty, it is clear that he can no longer effectively represent the residents of Atlantic City’s Fourth Ward,” he said. “He needs to resign.”
Morshed did not return requests for comment.
Morshed previously was charged with assaulting his wife and endangering their 12-year-old on Sept. 1. He was originally charged with third-degree endangering/abuse of a child.
In July 2021, he was hospitalized after he said two men assaulted him in a parking lot at Florida and Atlantic avenues. No arrests were ever reported.
Mayor Marty Small said he had not heard about the charges, and would be waiting to get more information before commenting.