A city man has filed criminal harassment charges against 2nd Ward councilman Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman in connection with an April 17th, 2015 incident on Edmund Avenue that left one man hospitalized.
Rafael Ortiz filed the charges on May 13th, 2015, alleging Akhtaruzzaman intervened in the dispute, where the councilman threatened to “not rest” until the former is behind bars.
Ortiz also alleges that the councilman attempted to assert his influence in a dispute that erupted between the resident and his neighbor.
Akhtaruzzaman called the charges “baseless.” He said, “The complaint has no merit.” The councilman said he responded to a constituent’s distress call on April 17th, 2015 near Edmund and Union Avenues.
By the time he arrived on the scene, police had already responded and completed a report, said the councilman. In that incident, Ortiz and Nelson Hernandez, a building superintendent, confronted a tenant of the building Basharul Choudhry, after smelling what they perceived as marijuana odor coming from behind the building.
At the back they found Choudhry smoking. Choudhry denied he was smoking marijuana, but said he was puffing on a cigarette. The two confronted Choudhry and asked him to stop smoking at the site.
Few moments later, near the stop sign at the corner of Edmund and Union Avenues, Choudhry was allegedly assaulted by Ortiz.
Ortiz approached Akhtaruzzaman when he made it to the scene and appeared to want to talk, but the councilman said he told him he had no intentions of speaking to him. In fact, Akhtaruzzaman said the only thing he knew when he responded to the scene, was that one person had been hospitalized.
“It’s a political snare,” said Akhtaruzzaman on Tuesday evening. He would not mention any names as to who was behind it, but alluded to Henry Sosa, his former campaign manager, who is now attempting to unseat him from office with Shahin Khalique, a Bangladeshi man who has thrown his hat into next year’s 2nd Ward race.
Sosa and Ortiz are colleagues, said Hernandez. Sosa also arrived at the scene at some point from his print shop on Union Avenue. Since then, Sosa, who has a close working relationship with Maritza Davila, councilwoman at-large, has been able to involve her into the matter.
When Ortiz and Hernandez brought the issue to city hall earlier in the month Davila sympathized with their cause. Davila, Sosa, and Akhtaruzzaman, all three of whom were allies in last May’s election have been engaging in open warfare as of late.
Sosa could not be reached for comments.
Akhtaruzzaman suggested Ortiz’s complaint appears to be a political tactic that is being used against him.
Ortiz’s municipal court complaint has to be transferred to another court because of Akhtaruzzaman’s position in the city.
Court director Manuel Quiles said the city’s presiding judge will put in a request to change the venue to the New Jersey Superior Court from which it will be transferred to one of the neighboring towns.