December 10, 2023

PATERSON — State authorities have quietly wiped away the criminal election fraud charges that the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office filed 39 months ago against Shelim Khalique, brother of a city councilman.

The dismissal of the charges against Khalique comes as two related election fraud cases against Paterson Councilmen Michael Jackson and Alex Mendez are moving along toward possible trials.

Shelim Khalique

Shelim Khalique

Paterson Press learned that the election case against Khalique was dropped while interviewing him Monday afternoon at the Essex County courthouse, where he and another brother pleaded not guilty to unrelated school bus safety charges.

Was Shelim Khalique indicted in 2020 election fraud case?

Khalique was the only person among four originally charged in the election probe who had not been indicted. The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office has not responded to Paterson Press’ repeated inquiries during the past two years about the status of the Khalique election complaints.

But Khalique’s lawyer on Monday provided Paterson Press with a copy of an order signed by Superior Court Judge Sohail Mohammed on June 26 that said the four election fraud charges against Khalique were being expunged.

The judge’s order said the expungement stemmed from the fact that the charges did not result in a conviction. But the order did not provide additional information on the nature of the dismissal, or when it took place.

“Mr. Khalique has been wrongly targeted by the Attorney General’s Office for years,” said Lee Vartan, his lawyer in the school bus probe. “The first case, charging him with election fraud, was dismissed and his arrest expunged. This newest case likewise does not charge a crime, and we look forward to filing a motion to dismiss the indictment.”

Khalique told Paterson Press that the cloud of the election fraud charges tarnished his reputation and made things difficult for his family. He said he felt vindicated by their dismissal.

“I have no words to say how I feel about this,” he stated. “It was all politics.”

Khalique said he learned that the charges had been dropped only when he got a letter in the mail about the judge’s decision to grant the expungement.

Three years later: Paterson’s election fraud case drags on — and on

What did Paterson officials say?

News of the dismissal on Monday spurred speculation that Khalique may be cooperating with authorities in the other election fraud cases.

But Khalique said no one has asked him about any of the other defendants in the election probe. The state also did not impose any requirements that he assist investigators in exchange for the dismissal, he said.

Paterson 1st Ward Councilman Michael Jackson.

Paterson 1st Ward Councilman Michael Jackson.

Jackson laughed out loud when a reporter told him that the state dismissed the charges against Khalique. Jackson cited the recent cooperative relationship between Councilman Shahin Khalique and Mayor Andre Sayegh, two men who three years ago were political adversaries.

“I guess Shahin Khalique’s willingness to bend over and lick their boots has paid off handsomely for him and his family,” Jackson said.

Sayegh, Shahin Khalique and Mendez could be reached for comment for this story.

15 violations outlined: These are some of the violations given to the Paterson bus company under investigation

What comes next?

The judge handling the school bus case scheduled the next court session for Nov. 6. Jwel Khalique was also charged in the school bus probe.

Paterson 3rd Ward Councilman Alex Mendez.

Paterson 3rd Ward Councilman Alex Mendez.

Mendez was supposed to have a court session in his election case on Monday morning, but it was postponed until Oct. 16.

Jackson’s trial was scheduled to start in the last week of August, but those proceedings also were delayed.

Joe Malinconico is editor of Paterson Press. Email:

This article originally appeared on Paterson NJ election fraud: Charges against Shelim Khalique dropped

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