Three years after an election flyer caution attention for targeting Asian-American school board candidates in a New Jersey township, a new twist in the case points blame as to who might have made the "Make Edison Great Again" flyers.
A new released U.S. Postal Inspector report suggests the flyer may have been an inside job involving the target of the mail and other associates, News 4 has learned.
Back in November 2017, Edison Township school board candidates Falguni Patel and Jerry Shi were featured on a mailer with “deport” stamps on their faces. The flyer claimed that the New Jersey town was being taken over by residents of Chinese and Indian descent.
"At first the flyer looks as if it comes from some hate group and we thought that might be the case, but when we brought in the people and interviewed people the testimony didn't point that way," said Edison Township Councilman Bob Diehl.
Diehl led a committee that collected evidence and called in witnesses to testify, even Shi, who refused to cooperate with the Postal Inspectors who were brought in to conduct a forensic investigation.
A fingerprint led inspectors to a man in New York who said he did a catering job at a restaurant in Iselin, which is next door to Edison. The owner was fully cooperative.
"The person who owns the restaurant told the inspectors several people came upstairs with boxes and fliers," Diehl said.
In the postal report, publicly released at a council meeting Thursday, the restaurant's owner, Chandrakant Patel, identified six people as being present when the postcards were organized, including the target of the flier Jerry Shi, another school board member, and a councilman who is now cooperating with the inspectors.
Reaction was fierce from those in the community who've followed the drama.
"We felt we were unfairly accused of going after the community when it was them going after themselves," said resident Bruce Diamond.
News 4 was unable to reach officials identified in the report except for Shi, who said in a statement: "I Jerry Shi, have never been to Chowpatty with boxes/racist flyers. Chandrakant Patel's claim of me delivering of putting stamps or labels on racist flyers is flat out life."
Councilman Diehl said they want assistance from state and even federal law enforcement to delve deeper and to determine whether and crimes occurred.
"Let's bring the FBI here, because with all the testimony and evidence we do have, I've said if we have the FBI here we'd have this done by tomorrow," Diehl said.
Some of the others listed in the report have gone on social media claiming this investigation is the real case of dirty politics; some even threatening alwsuits.