According to a news release from the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, an aide to former Perth Amboy Mayor Joseph Vas pleaded guilty to charges of second-degree conspiracy and third-degree financial facilitation of criminal activity. 

Melvin Ramos conspired with Vas to obtain payment from a city vendor and illegally funnel money into Vas’ congressional campaign via straw donors to evade campaign funding reporting rules.

On May 20, 2009 Vas and Ramos were served a 19-count indictment charging Vas, two city vendors and two of the organizations owners. All defendants except Vas have pleaded guilty.

Along with campaign funding schemes and schemes with city vendors, Vas allegedly stole $5,926 to pay off personal medical bills as well as $604 for a personal eyeglasses bill from the city.

“This longtime aide to Mayor Vas today admitted that, at the mayor’s bidding, he engaged in two illegal schemes: one to pump funds into Vas’ congressional campaign, and a second to have a city vendor pay an unauthorized catering bill for a city gala,” said Attorney General Paula T. Dow. “We allege that all of this was about Vas corruptly seeking to build his war chest and his political stature.”

In pleading guilty, Ramos admitted that between January and July 2006, he and Vas solicited city employees and others to make fraudulent contributions to Vas’ 2006 campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives. Ramos said he paid cash to the people he solicited to reimburse them for writing personal checks to, “Vas for Congress”.

The state will recommend Ramos be sentenced to seven years in state prison. Vas and Ramos were convicted of federal corruption charges filed by the District Attorney in October. Ramos will serve his federal sentence concurrently with his stint in state prison.

Vas served as mayor of Perth Amboy from 1990-2008.