Posted on November 6, 2020

Board of Education Member on 2017 Racist Flier May Have Been Involved in Mailing

Kathy Chang, Central Jersey, November 5, 2020

Was the racist flier that was distributed by mail during the 2017 Edison Township Public Schools Board of Education election “a political trick for politics”?

That is what Township Councilman Robert Diehl believes, and he called the information in United States Postal Inspector David Comer’s report “a shame” during a Committee of the Whole meeting on Nov. 5.

Comer’s report names six members of the community who were allegedly involved in assembling or mailing the flier: Satish Poondi, the legal adviser for the Indian Business Association who previously served on the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Community Relations in Edison; Raj Bhagia; Mohin Patel; Township Councilman Ajay Patil; Board of Education member Jerry Shi; and Shariq Ahmad, the former chairman of the Edison Democratic Organization.

Ahmad was allegedly found to have purchased 80 rolls of the same postage stamp that was used on the flier on Oct. 28, 2017, at the Edison Post Office on Route 27.


Comer previously testified before the Committee of the Whole. He said 137 racist flier postcards which have been marked and submitted as evidence have gone through a visual examination and an alternate light source examination, and have been submitted to a forensic laboratory.


Aloysius Dsouza’s fingerprints were found on one mailing that was sent for testing at the forensic laboratory, according to reports. This finding ultimately led to an interview with Chandrakant Patel, founder of Chowpatty Restaurant in Iselin, on Sept. 28, 2020.

Patel named the six people during an interview with Comer. He said he was contacted by Poondi in October 2017, allegedly requesting help in “mailing things.” {snip}

He said each of the six individuals came into his restaurant carrying boxes that included large postcards, according to reports. He reportedly asked Aloysius and Joseph Dsouza, who were working at the restaurant, to help them with the mailing.


Diehl said Patil told them the architects of the racial flier were allegedly Poondi, Bhagia and Mahesh Bhagia, who was not named in the report. Mahesh Bhagia is the current Edison Democratic municipal chairman and works as an aide to Mayor Thomas Lankey.


One main question remains – who distributed the racist flier by mail on Oct. 31, 2017, which had the faces of the two candidates, Jerry Shi and Falguni Patel, who are of Asian descent. The flier stated “Make Edison Great Again” and underneath each photo was the word “Deport.”


Aside from a joint statement with Falguni Patel denouncing the racist flier after it was mailed during the 2017 Board of Education election, Shi, who ran for re-election for a board seat in the recent election, has remained relatively mum about the incident that made national news. Shi has not spoken with law enforcement personnel, according to officials.

During his testimony, Shi called the flier “vile and disgraceful” and said he has been “forever traumatized from the experience.”

When reached after the meeting, Shi offered a written statement.

“I, Jerry Shi, have never been to Chowpatty with boxes/racist flyers. Chandrakant Patel’s claim of me delivering or putting stamps or labels on racist flyers is flat-out lie.”