Fed up with Grewal, Edison mayor asks prosecutor to take on racist flyer probe


A frustrated Edison Mayor Thomas Lankey says he’s had enough of delays Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and wants Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone to take over an investigation into racist flyers in a 2017 local election.

“The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office investigation into how a racist flyer was circulated has been allegedly going on for more than three years but, to date, no one has been held accountable for this horrific hate crime,” Lankey said.  “Enough is enough.”

Lankey had he was advised in November 2020 that the attorney general’s office was investigating the anonymous mailer that told voters “the Chinese and Indians are taking over our town.”

Edison Council President Robert Diehl, who was leading a council probe of the controversial flyer,  complained two weeks ago that no investigators had contacted him or any other municipal official.

The New Jersey Globe reported last week that Edison Councilman Ajay Patil identified Democratic Municipal Chairman Mahesh Bhagia and Satish Poondi, a partner at the Wilentz law firm, as the masterminds behind the racist flyer.

“I was appalled to read a transcript in the NJ Globe this weekend that detailed the conspiracy by Edison elected officials and prominent members of our community to sow division and racial discord in our town,” Lankey said.  “Now, audio recordings reveal that members of our governing body and their allies knew full-well who was responsible.”

The attorney general’s office has declined to say if Grewal has recused himself from the probe – if one even exists – due to a personal relationship with Poondi.

Now Lankey is pushing Ciccone, a former Superior Court Judge with a stellar reputation, to become involved.

“I call on the Middlesex County Prosecutor to take over this long-stagnant investigation, so that the perpetrators can finally be held accountable and so that our community can move past this horrific incident and begin the difficult process of healing,” Lankey said.

Lankey, who is up for re-election this year, has made it clear that he’s not going to drop the matter.

“I can assure everyone that my Administration will not rest until all the details surrounding this unconscionable act are uncovered. This act will not be permitted to define our great community,” Lankey said.  “Too many people, have worked too hard, for too long, to make Edison the progressively diverse community that it is today. A handful of deplorable individuals will not change that and must be brought to justice.”

Poondi is a part of the Edison Eight, a group implicated after an investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspector.

Spokesmen for the attorney general and the Middlesex County Prosecutor declined comment.

An anonymous mailer sent out during the 2017 Edison Board of Education campaign.



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