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Alexander Lewis, House Information Tribune and Courier Information

EDISON – The college board president, whose face appeared on controversial marketing campaign literature a number of years in the past, has been requested by an investigative committee to submit his fingerprints for testing.

The investigating physique – Edison Township’s Committee of the Complete – subpoenaed Board of Training President Jerry Shi to seem at its Oct. 2 assembly probing the marketing campaign flyers mailed to some residents earlier than the 2017 election.

The flyers featured the phrase “Make Edison Nice Once more” and pictures of Shi and board member Falguni Patel, who each at the moment serve on the board.

The assembly included two hours of testimony from Shi, who was appointed to the board of schooling in 2014 and re-elected in 2017, accompanied by his legal professional, Christopher Keating.

When requested by Councilman Michael Lombardi if there can be any purpose his fingerprints can be on any of the flyers, Shi responded, “There must be no purpose.”

Shi then mentioned he has been fingerprinted “a variety of instances” as a result of board of schooling members in New Jersey should be fingerprinted and background checked. He was additionally fingerprinted when he grew to become a U.S. citizen, he mentioned.

“Nicely, we despatched a number of out for evaluation — we’ve got a number of fingerprints,” Councilman Robert Diehl mentioned. “My query is, to Mr. Shi and it will undergo the legal professional, will he submit his personal fingerprints, so he may be eradicated, maybe, with any involvement within the racist flyers.”

Keating, Shi’s legal professional, mentioned if a request was put in writing, “we’ll take it underneath advisement.”

“I do not get it. I simply do not get it,” Diehl mentioned. “If Mr. Shi states that there isn’t any method on the earth his fingerprints can be on a postcard or a card within the publish workplace, then why would not he submit his fingerprints, so we are able to clear that up? I will submit mine.”

Diehl then requested Shi if he would take a polygraph check, which his legal professional once more mentioned would solely be thought-about after receiving a written request.

Councilman Sam Joshi mentioned he has been involved with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and had 137 flyers examined. 

“They had been submitted to a forensic laboratory,” he mentioned. “Out of that 137, simply shy of about 50 postcards got here again with fingerprints.”

Joshi mentioned the outcomes had been despatched to the committee on Sept. 30

Of these found, 11 fingerprints had been full and on par with the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), which is a digital database of fingerprint knowledge managed by the FBI. 

Joshi famous the flyers despatched for evaluation had been confiscated by the publish workplace and weren’t mailed to households in the course of the 2017 election.

Throughout the assembly, Shi’s legal professional tried to have the committee recuse Diehl, Joshi, Councilman Ajay Patil and Council President Alvaro Gomez from the investigation for conflicts of curiosity. The committee refused.

Shi, throughout testimony, mentioned he knew nothing about Individuals for Progress, the group that was talked about on the flyers. He additionally mentioned Edison Democratic Group Chair Shariq Ahmad didn’t work with the Unity Group, the slate identify that Shi, Patel, Beth Maroney and Paul Distefano ran for underneath in 2017.

At a earlier assembly, a U.S. postal inspector testified that Ahmad  bought $three,920 price of stamps within the days main as much as the mailing of greater than 1,000 flyers.

Ahmad mentioned the stamps he bought had been for Mayor Thomas Lankey’s re-election marketing campaign “and had been reimbursed by him.”

An ELEC submitting by Lankey reveals that on Nov. 1, 2017, Lankey’s marketing campaign reimbursed Ahmad $three,920 for unsolicited mail postage.

Throughout a earlier assembly, former board of schooling member Shannon Peng — who was additionally accompanied by an legal professional — mentioned she volunteered with the Unity Group. 

EARLIER: Edison Democratic chair purchased $4K of postage days before racist fliers mailed: federal agent

Throughout testimony, the committee displayed an e mail Peng allegedly despatched in October 2017 to Distefano with a political cartoon, graphs and pie chart depicting the township’s schooling spending.

The identical e mail, depicting practically the identical graphics and knowledge, was then despatched by an unknown particular person named Andrew Morales lower than per week later from Individuals for Progress’s e mail deal with, ppl4progress@gmail.com.

Peng admitted to brainstorming marketing campaign concepts. She additionally mentioned that a number of individuals would typically meet to debate such concepts and recalled one such assembly she mentioned was held on the home of Mahesh Bhagia, an assistant to Lankey. 

EARLIER: After Edison meeting on racist flyers, Indian man told to ‘Get on a plane and get out of America’

The committee later requested Bhagia if he can be prepared to undergo a polygraph check and be fingerprinted, which his legal professional mentioned must be explored later if an official request was made.

Diehl mentioned a proper request has been made to Shi for his fingerprints. In line with Diehl, the council was knowledgeable someday after the assembly that Keating was not serving as Shi’s legal professional.

“We’re requesting these fingerprints and a solution as as to if he’ll take a polygraph,” Diehl mentioned. “We additionally will subpoena him or do no matter we have to do to get that info if we want it.”

To observe the total video of the assembly, click on here.

Workers Author Nick Muscavage is an award-winning watchdog reporter whose work spans many matters and has spurred the creation of a state law. Contact him: 908-243-6615; ngmuscavage@gannettnj.com; @nmuscavage.

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