MD Hossain Morshed, 49, a Democrat who represents the city’s Fourth Ward, was charged in a complaint unsealed Friday, March 17, in U.S. District Court in Camden.
Morshed falsified voter registrations, lied to the FBI and filed bogus unemployment benefit claims with the state, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said.
According to Sellinger, Morshed gave a prospective voter in the June 2019 primary a pre-filled voter registration application that listed an address in Atlantic City’s Fourth Ward, where he was running for office.
Morsed “urged the prospective voter to sign the application,” even though the address listed wasn’t that person’s, the U.S. attorney said.
Morshed later went to the prospective voter’s actual residence outside the Fourth Ward and gave that person a vote-by-mail application to sign that included the same bogus address as on the voter registration form, Sellinger said.
It also listed “yet another false Atlantic City address for where the mail-in ballot should be sent to the voter, he said.
The voter’s mail-in ballot was received and counted, Sellinger said.
The voter later admitted not “receiving, completing or returning the mail-in ballot,” the U.S. attorney said.
A wiretap conversation between the two included Morshed telling the voter to support the lie if questioned by law enforcement.
He lied when asked about the fraud, FBI agents who interviewed him said.
Morshed falsely told the FBI 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,” Sellinger said.
“Morshed also falsely stated that he had never asked residents of municipalities outside of Atlantic City to register to vote in Atlantic City’s Fourth Ward,” the U.S. attorney added.
But there’s more.
Morshed also defrauded the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development out of $39,208 in COVID unemployment benefits that he wasn’t entitled to, Sellinger said.
He’d actually been working as a driver and earning a paycheck from the city as a councilman at the time, he said.
Morshed, who was elected to office in 2019, made headlines two years ago when he said he’d been badly beaten in a city parking lot. He said that he was targeted because of an ongoing city campaign against drugs.
Sellinger credited special agents of FBI Newark’s Atlantic City Resident Agency’s Public Corruption Task Force, which includes the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office, Atlantic City police, New Jersey State Police; the Cape May County Prosecutor's Office; special agents with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Northeast Regional Office of Inspector General and postal inspectors with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Philadelphia office with the investigation leading to the charges.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric A. Boden, who is the attorney-in-charge of Sellinger’s Trenton Office, and Assistant U.S. Attorney James H. Graham of the General Crimes Unit are handling the case.
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