Next month marks the two-year anniversary of the Federal Investigation Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raiding Hoboken City Hall, removing computers from the Information Technology office, and opening an investigation into stolen e-mails.
In November of 2011, six months after the FBI came in, they arrested Patrick Ricciardi, the former management information systems specialist for the city. Finally, last month, Ricciardi pleaded guilty to intercepting communications meant for Mayor Dawn Zimmer and top city officials, and passing some of those emails on to other officials.
The FBI became aware of the email situation after Zimmer’s administration became suspicious of information that was apparently leaked to others. City Hall then conducted an internal security audit in early 2011, which revealed the suspicious files in Riccardi’s computer.
Ricciardi created an archive file on his work computer to intercept and store all emails sent to and from the mayor and some of the mayor’s employees. Neither the mayor nor any other city employee authorized the storage of the emails or the creation of the file.
During his guilty plea proceeding, Ricciardi admitted he used his access to set up the email accounts of the mayor and two of the mayor’s top lieutenants so all of their incoming and sent emails would be sent to the archive folder.
“Had no comment then, have no comment now.” – Richard Blohm
So is the investigation over, or will there be more arrests?
Two allegedly involved officials
The matter came up again in 2012, when Ricciardi’s former assistant, Jonathon Cummins, claimed as part of testimony in a City Hall personnel case that he had allegedly passed some of the e-mails to the city’s fire chief, Richard Blohm, and to former Public Safety Director Angel Alicea.
Alicea no longer works for the city of Hoboken. However, fire chief Richard Blohm is still employed by Hoboken.
Mayor Zimmer said Wednesday that she could not speak on an individual’s employment, but did confirm that Blohm is still an employee.
When reached by phone on Thursday and asked if he wanted to share his side of the story, Chief Blohm said, “Absolutely not. I have nothing to say on that. Had no comment then, have no comment now.”
Mayor still waiting
Zimmer would not comment on Wednesday about Blohm’s status.
She did say that she believes there were “quite a few people involved.”
“I will not be satisfied until all of the people involved are held accountable,” said Zimmer. “I am communicating to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in order to get all of the names implicated as well as all of the evidence that has developed so that we can apply the appropriate administrative action.”
When asked if she believed that more officials were involved on the intercepting or the receiving end, Zimmer would not comment.
Zimmer did say, however, that the testimony of Ricciardi’s former assistant Cummins suggested that more people were involved.
According to a 2011 FBI complaint, Cummins allegedly confessed to city officials of his involvement, but later said he was not involved. Ricciardi told the FBI that Cummins only confessed due to his friendship with Ricciardi, according to the complaint.
Cummins was fired in 2011, but later fought the termination.
The FBI’s publicly released documents on the matter only mention a present and former official, believed to be Blohm and Alicea.
When reached on Thursday to comment on the issue, U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Matt Riley said, “We cannot confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation.”
Public Affairs Officer Rebekah Carmichael followed up with an email saying, “This specific investigation has concluded,” in relation to Ricciardi. When asked if there will be further investigation into others, Carmichael repeated, “We cannot confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation,” in an email.
Ricciardi will be sentenced on July 1, 2013.
Amanda Palasciano may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.