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Federal complaint details Atlantic City councilman's alleged lies

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"You can make your registration any place but you have to pick the one place," an Atlantic City councilman allegedly told a man who had voted for him under a false address.

"Anywhere," Councilman MD Hossain Morshed told the voter, according to a federal complaint quoting recorded conversations. "Alaska, Siberia, uh Margate, Longport, Atlantic City, Absecon, any places."

He was talking to a man named only as potential voter 1, or PV1, in a three-count criminal complaint signed against Morshed on Thursday.

The voter really lived in Galloway Township, the complaint alleges.

In addition to submitting fraudulent voter registration applications, Morshed is accused of lying to the FBI and illegally obtaining unemployment benefits while he continued to collect his council salary as well as additional money as a ride-share driver.

Morshed, 49, has not responded to requests seeking comment. It is unclear who may be representing him in the case.

Atlantic County Democratic Party Chairman Michael Suleiman called for him to resign.

But Mayor Marty Small said he would not make the same request.

"Throughout my career, I have consistently not commented on the legal situation of others," said Small, who has twice been acquitted of criminal allegations.

"This is a matter between Councilman Morshed and the FBI," he continued. "Furthermore, it's a distraction but as mayor of the great city of Atlantic City, it's important that we don't get distracted. Our focus is to continue the tremendous progress we've made as an organization and continue to make it a great day here in the city of Atlantic City."

The city's Democratic Party recently endorsed Morshed to continue in his Fourth Ward seat while taking to task three councilmembers — LaToya Dunston, Bruce Weekes and George Tibbitt — who have been vocal opponents of the administration.

Morshed, who some have alleged does not live in the city, dealt with at least four potential voters during the 2019 council race who gave different accounts of their interactions than he did, according to the complaint. One's vote was not counted after the Board of Elections rejected it.

But it's an unnamed voter from Galloway Township who is in recorded conversations with Morshed, who advises him on how to deal with the questions that came during an investigation last year.

It all began when Morshed gave the man, identified as PV1, a vote-by-mail registration with an Atlantic City address on it. The address, Morshed would allegedly tell him later, was a property owned by the then-candidate.

Morshed visited the man at his Galloway home at least three times trying to convince him to sign the application, which included a second Atlantic City address as the place the ballot should be mailed, the complaint states.

The man finally signed after Morshed allegedly told him again that it was legal and promised PV1 a job in city government when he got elected.

The vote was counted in June. In July, Morshed allegedly returned with a new form for PV1 to change his address back to the Galloway location.

An investigation led to recorded calls PV1 made last August at law enforcement's request.

In one on Aug. 11, Morshed allegedly advised PV1 to tell law enforcement that he was working in Atlantic City and had a place there, "and some time I live in Atlantic City, some time I live in Galloway."

"You are not doing anything wrong," he told the man, according to the complaint. "Don’t worry whatever I tell you they gonna ask you the same question, you gonna give the answer.”

When PV1 called back Aug. 29, he told Morshed that law enforcement had insisted that was illegal.

"No, no no, you can make your voter registration any place, but you have to pick the one place," the complaint quotes Morshed saying. "If anything, you just tell them ... you filled out the application.”

They then met in person later that day.

At that meeting, Morshed allegedly told PV1 to say he was living at the second Atlantic City address, where the ballot was mailed.

Morshed allegedly said it was an empty house that belonged to his uncle.

"That’s why I told you to come over there then I can show you, brother," Morshed's quoted as saying.

Morshed later allegedly gave more details for the false scenario.

"You tell them, 'I was living over there all the time. I do not stay at my house because my family living here. I had some problem with my wife, so sometimes I would stay this house,'” the complaint states.

The complaint also alleges that, while Morshed was making at least $1,068.90 every other week as his councilman's salary beginning Jan. 24, 2020, he applied for state Pandemic Unemployment Assistance on April 5, 2020.

He allegedly listed his primary job as taxi driver/chauffer, and said the last time he worked was that March 15.

Anyone making more than $277 weekly did not qualify for the program.

Between May 16, 2020, and Sept. 4, 2021, Morshed submitted about 69 certifications that he had not worked during the reporting time, the complaint alleges.

More than four months after applying for benefits, Morshed opened accounts with two ride-sharing companies, where he worked as a driver.

The complaint gives an example that Morshed made $1,562.21 driving for one company Aug. 24, 2020, although it does not detail the time period that covered. Additionally, he received his councilman's salary 11 days later, that included payment for that same timeframe. Yet on Aug. 30, he certified to the Department of Labor that he had not worked that week, the complaint claims.

He illegally collected a total of $39,208, the complaint claims.

That count carries a maximum of 20 years in prison. The false voter registrations and false statements carry a maximum of five years each.

author

Lynda Cohen

Lynda Cohen founded BreakingAC after working as a local newspaper reporter for more than two decades. She is an NJPA award-winner and was a Stories of Atlantic City fellow.

Sunday, May 19, 2024
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