A U.S. Postal Service mail carrier from Kearny was arrested Wednesday, Oct. 7, and charged with allegedly discarding mail, including 99 general election ballots sent from the Essex County Board of Elections and intended to be delivered to West Orange residents, from his assigned routes in Orange and West Orange, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Nicholas Beauchene, 26, of Kearny, is charged by complaint with one count of delay, secretion or detention of mail and one count of obstruction of mail.
He was to appear Wednesday, Oct. 7, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Approximately 1,875 pieces of mail — including 627 pieces of first class, 873 pieces of standard class, two pieces of certified mail, 99 general election ballots destined for residents in West Orange and 276 campaign flyers from local candidates for West Orange Town Council and Board of Education — were reportedly recovered from dumpsters in North Arlington and West Orange on Oct. 2, 2020, and Oct. 5, 2020.
The mail had been scheduled to be delivered on Sept. 28, Oct. 1, and Oct. 2, 2020, to addresses on certain postal routes in Orange and West Orange. On the delivery dates for which mail was recovered, Beauchene was the only mail carrier assigned to deliver mail to the addresses on the recovered mail.
The recovered mail was placed back into the stream for delivery to its intended recipients.
Copies of the recovered mail were made and retained as evidence.
North Arlington Mayor Daniel H. Pronti told The Observer the dumpster where the mail was reportedly found is in the parking lot at the North Arlington FoodTown, adjacent to the Great Clips property, also near Santander Bank.
The mayor says he’s concerned that this could happen, not just in North Arlington, but anywhere with any kind of mail.
“I have no issue with people who ask for ballots — and who are expecting ballots — to vote by mail,” Pronti, a Republican, said. “It’s the people who aren’t expecting the ballots where things can happen. That’s where forged ballots could be a bigger issue.”
The mayor also wanted it to be clear — the ballot drop box at Borough Hall is under 24/7 surveillance and it is absolutely safe for residents to place their filled-out mail ballots in the box.
The delay of mail charge is punishable by a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The obstruction of mail charge is punishable by a maximum penalty of six months in prison and a $5,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the USPS-Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Matthew Modafferi, Northeast Area Field Office, with the investigation leading to today’s arrest. He also thanked the North Arlington Police Department, under the direction of Chief Scott Hedenberg, for their assistance.
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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.