Do politics ever get more interesting than in New Jersey? Nidia Lopez is a Councilwoman representing Ward C in Jersey City, NJ. She was elected to the office on May 12, 2009. She has not filed a tax return in New Jersey for three years, yet her lawyer argues she is certainly a citizen of Jersey City. But is she actually a resident of Orlando, Florida?
Lopez purchased a 4-bedroom home in Orlando's MetroWest in 1997, and filed for homestead exemption there - under the name Nidia Boehringer. Boehringer married Ben Lopez, "Hudson County's [NJ] director of Family Services" in 2001.
According to this report, Lopez filed for exemption in Florida for 2009, but a tipster turned her in and an investigation began. She filed her federal taxes as a resident of Florida in 2006 and 2007, but asked for an extension for 2008.
Nidia Lopez and/or Nidia Boehringer is registered to vote in both Jersey City and Orlando, but she didn't have a New Jersey driver's license until June 2009. Jersey City News said Lopez voted in Jersey City and Orlando in 2003. A spokesman for the Florida Division of Elections says this is a third-degree felony offense, "punishable by up to a $5,000 fine and/or up to five years in prison.
But Lopez's attorney, Bill Northgrave, said he only has to prove that Lopez had been a full-time resident of Jersey City for the year before her election, which he said will be no problem.A lawsuit is underway to challenge her election. It was announced today that testimony in the case is now closed. The attorney for the plaintiff, Diana Jeffrey, said Lopez' testimony claimed the following:
"The fact that she didn't pay taxes in (New Jersey in) 2006 and 2007 is completely irrelevant to the case. The only thing that's relevant is whether she was a resident of Jersey City, N.J., for one year prior to May 12, 2009," he said.
Basically she said she didn’t know she had to –[didn't know] that she had to file taxes from her New Jersey address even though she worked exclusively in New Jersey, and as to the mortgage documents said they say her Florida home was her primary residence,she said she didn’t read them, just signed them,” said Jeffery.
Jeffrey said that Lopez admitted that she renewed her driver’s license in Florida in 2006, and said that she was unaware that she was supposed to get a New Jersey driver’s license if it was her permanent address.The state of Florida has sent Lopez a bill for $30,473.59 in back taxes. What about taxes owed in New Jersey?
Remember the multiple federal arrests of officials in Jersey City in July 2009? There was Leona Beldini, who served as Deputy Mayor of Jersey City under Mayor Jerramiah Healy. And Jersey City Council President Mariano Vega, Joseph Castagna, Guy Catrillo, John Guarini, Maher A. Khalil and Michael Manzo. The arrest of Jack Shaw, a political consultant in Jersey City, ended in his suicide just days after the crime sweep. The charges against these city leaders were "conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right."
When the New York Post reported the story, they somehow forgot to point out the party affiliation for this motely crew, except for two Republicans, John Guarini and Guy Catrillo - but Catrillo ran for the Democrat mayor seat, a defecting Republican, but the NY Post didn't get the memo.
Mayor Healy has admitted to being "Jersey City Public Official 4" in the federal complaint against those shown above. Some of those indicted are accused of "acting as middlemen" for Healy in the federal probe, but the mayor remains free of charge. He is standing by the first Hispanic-female member of his city's council.
From the transcript of Jersey City Councilwoman Nidia Lopez's deposition with attorney Howard Myerowitz, who is representing her former opponent, Norrice Raymaker, in a lawsuit that charges that Lopez is technically a Florida resident:
Myerowitz: Have you ever been involved in any lawsuits as a plaintiff?
Lopez: Does this mean I am being sued or I am suing?
Myerowitz: That means you are suing somebody else.
Lopez: Yes. I once fell on a French fry in Orlando, Florida in the House of Pancakes.
Myerowitz: When was that?
Lopez: 1990-something, maybe 1995, I don't know, in the nineties. Another lawsuit was in New Jersey with Evelyn Padin with a pair of shoes that I fell.
Who voted for this woman? The first Hispanic female member of the council, receiving more votes than all the combined votes cast for 5 other candidates? What was ACORN doing around May 12th in Jersey City?
Many New Jersey taxpayers are outraged. They point out that her party affiliation is never mentioned. Blogger Chris Wysocki suggests that Lopez is probably in line for an Obama cabinet position:
It's Hudson County New Jersey where the dead vote, and apparently the living vote twice. And most importantly, where paying taxes is somebody else's job.Well, we know she is a Democrat. If she wasn't, Mayor Healy would be all over it. If Lopez was a Republican, she'd already be behind bars.