The former president of city council in Atlantic City who has recently been a major political organizer has been charged for allegedly submitting fraudulent mail-in ballots this past Election Day.

64-year-old Craig Callaway is charged in a criminal complaint with one count of depriving, defrauding, and attempting to deprive and defraud the residents of the state of New Jersey of a fair and impartially conducted election process by the fraudulent procurement, casting, and tabulation of ballots, according to U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger's office.

Federal authorities say about one month before the November 8th, 2022, general election, Callaway and others working at his direction approached numerous people in Atlantic City, promising to pay them $30 to $50 to act as purported authorized messengers for voters who supposedly wished to vote by mail.

From a press release from the Department of Justice,

After receiving Vote-By-Mail Applications from Callaway or his subordinates, these purported messengers entered the Atlantic County clerk’s office carrying anywhere from one to four completed Vote-By-Mail Applications. As instructed by Callaway or his subordinates, these individuals provided county clerk’s office personnel proof of identification and signed the Vote-By-Mail Applications in the authorized messenger portion before handing those signed applications to office personnel. The purported messengers waited while office personnel processed the applications and, if the applications were approved, provided to the purported messengers mail-in ballots for the voters listed on the applications.

Officials point out that under New Jersey law, a messenger is required to deliver any mail-in ballot they received directly to the voter who requested the ballots and certify that they would do so. However, after receiving mail-in ballots, these purported messengers allegedly left the county clerk's office and instead handed the ballots to Callaway or his subordinates.

Many of the mail-in ballots collected by Callaway or his subordinates were ultimately cast in the names of people who have confirmed that they did not vote in the 2022 General Election – either in person or by submitting a mail-in ballot – and that they did not authorize Callaway, his subordinates, or anyone else, to cast ballots for them. Many of these mail-in ballots were counted towards in the election.

Atlantic City Skyline - Photo Townsquare Media South Jersey
Atlantic City Skyline - Photo Townsquare Media South Jersey

Sellinger Speaks

U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said in a statement,

Holding free and fair elections is a bedrock principle of our democracy. As alleged in the complaint, the defendant attempted to deprive New Jersey residents of a fair election by fraudulently procuring and casting ballots. Today’s charges reflect our office’s commitment to hold to account those who try to undermine the electoral process.

Large Investigation

Sellinger credited the following agencies with their work in this case:

  • FBI
  • The FBI's Atlantic City Resident Agency's Public Corruption Task Force, including the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office
  • Atlantic City Police Department
  • New Jersey State Police
  • U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Northeast Region
  • Department of Agriculture – Office of Inspector General
  • U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Philadelphia Division

Court Appearance

Callaway is scheduled to make an initial court appearance Thursday in Camden federal court.

The charge that Callaway is facing could send him to prison for up to five years with a fine of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The public is reminded that charges are accusations and all persons are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

A walk around the closed Atlantic Club Casino in Atlantic City

The Atlantic Club closed in January 2014 and not much has happened there since.

Gallery Credit: Chris Coleman