The story of the alleged arrest warrant, for a traffic violation, out of Dallas for Red Bank Republican Council candidate Sean DiSomma took bizarre twist and turns on Friday as Dallas officials confirmed to MMM and RedBankGreen, early in the day, that there had never been a warrant on DiSomma. Late Friday, a Dallas official told RedBankGreen that DiSomma was in “capias warrant status” and the Dallas Court website was updated to reflect that status. The official told RBG that the warrant was issued because DiSomma’s 2011 check paying his traffic violation fine bounced one year after it had been submitted, which would have been in January or February of 2012.
Monmouth Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal released an audio clip produced on Friday, purported to be a recording on the Dallas Court’s automated response system indicating that there was an “alias warrant” issued for DiSomma.
DiSomma, who provided documentation showing he paid his fines on Thursday evening, hours after he was made aware of the situation by members of the press following up on Gopal’s accusations, said the he was caught up in a “bureaucratic nightmare” with the Dallas Courts and that he was being defamed by the Monmouth Democrats.
Late Thursday night, through conversations with the Dallas Police Department and multiple visits to the DallasCityHall website, MMM confirmed that the accusation, made by the Monmouth County Democrats and reported by the Asbury Park Press and NJ.com without verification, that Red Bank Republican Council candidate Sean DiSomma was the subject of an arrest warrant for an unpaid traffic ticket was false.
On Friday morning, we spoke with Trisha at the Dallas Municipal Court who confirmed that there was no warrant issued for DiSomma’s arrest and that there never had been a warrant issued for DiSomma. DiSomma sent us documentation that he paid his fines on Thursday night.
RedBankGreen reported that they too spoke with an employee of the Dallas Court who confirmed that there was no warrant for DiSomma.
Friday afternoon, Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal sent us an audio clip, recorded sometime on Friday, of the Dallas Court System’s automated response which indicated that there was an “alias warrant” issued for DiSomma. The audio can be heard here.
Gopal issued the following statement accompanied by the audio:
“For a candidate who throws around the words ‘liar’ and ‘corrupt’ so loosely, lacking any respect for his neighbors, its not surprising he continues to call everyone and anyone a liar, whom he does not agree with.
This has nothing to do with an unanswered traffic ticket. It has to do with responsibility and character. Accusing your opponents of mishandling Red Bank’s finances when the challenger himself chooses to ignore a summons and a potential fine he owes to another municipality is utter hypocrisy.
Attached is an audio clip showing an automated response from the Dallas Municipal Court recorded on October 25th stating that the status of the summons is an “alias warrant”. If the candidate wants debate the issue of what an Alias Warrant is for the next 11 days, that is up to him, but we first suggest he deals with the City of Dallas, Texas. We are going to focus on responsibility and character – the two issues we are bringing up as he continues to call his opponents ‘liars’ and ‘corrupt’. For a candidate who has only recently become a resident of Red Bank to allege financial mismanagement of the incumbent council members when he himself has ignored his own personal responsibility is undeserving of the public trust.”
RedBankGreen reported, in the same post where they said an employee told them there was no warrant, that on late Friday afternoon Dallas City public information officer Jose Torres said that DiSomma was in “capias warrant status.” Torres said that DiSomma had paid his fine in January of 2011, but that his check was returned for insufficient funds one year later. How does a check bounce after one year?!
Early Friday evening, the Dallas Court’s website was updated to indicate that a “capias pro fine” warrant was issued for DiSomma at 12:00AM on Friday morning. Click here to view a screenshot of the capias pro fine warrant notice.
On Thursday night and Friday morning the Dallas Court’s website indicated that there was no warrant for DiSomma. Click here for that screenshot.
To review, on Thursday afternoon Gopal issued a statement saying that DiSomma had a warrant for his arrest out in Dallas for an unpaid speeding ticket. He provided a link to the Dallas Court’s website that indicated there was no warrant for DiSomma and the that violation was for running a stop sign. At MMM’s request, Gopal then sent us what he said would be a copy of the warrant. What Gopal sent was a WARRANT OF ARREST NOTICE, that said a warrant may be issued if DiSomma did not clear up the matter. Click here to see that document.
MMM then called the Dallas Police Department. The officer we spoke to confirmed that Dallas sends warnings, i.e., the WARRANT OF ARREST NOTICE, before issuing warrants and directed us to the Sheriff’s Department Warrant Division for confirmation of DiSomma’s status. A call to the Sheriff’s Department pointed us back to the Dallas Court website and the notice that the warrant status was “N/A.” DiSomma sent us documentation that he paid his fine on Thursday night. He said he recalled paying the fine in 2011, would search his bank records for documentation of such, and seek a refund for the double payment.
MMM and RedBankGreen both received confirmation from Dallas Court employees on Friday that there was no warrant for DiSomma. Later on Friday, Gopal submitted a recording produced on Friday that purported to be a automated response from the Dallas Court System that indicated there was an “alias warrant” out for DiSomma. Later, RedBankGreen was told by Jose Torres, a Dallas Court public information officer, that DiSomma was in “capias warrant status” and that the check he submitted to pay his fine in January of 2011 bounced one year later.
The Dallas Court website says an Alias Warrant is when a defendant fails to make an appearance. A Capias Warrant is when a defendant has a guilty judgment and fails to follow a court order.
Cue Rod Sterling introducing an episode of The Twilight Zone.
MMM slammed the Asbury Park Press and NJ.com for their shoddy journalism on Thursday and Friday when they reported that DiSomma had a warrant for his arrest issued without verifying such with the Dallas Court. In APP’s case, they published an ambiguous statement that the warrant had been confirmed. The statement was ambiguous as to who was doing the confirmation. Did the APP reporter confirm the warrant with Dallas? If so, the statement was not sourced. Or was the APP reporting that the Monmouth Democrats confirmed the warrant? Either way, it was shoddy journalism that put a young man’s reputation at risk.
In their latest update on Friday evening, there is still no indication that APP called anyone in Dallas to verify the facts of this bizarre tale. It’s getting to be towards the end of the month. Maybe Gannett has used up all of their minutes. NJ.com called Dallas, but only reported the definition of an “alias warrant” as a result of that call. They reported DiSomma’s claim that he is being defamed by the Monmouth Democrats.
Via email, Gopal asked MMM for an apology for “making me look bad” and for not rushing to publish his audio and statement.
Sorry Vin, you still look bad. MMM didn’t make you look bad. In your quest to defend council seats in Red Bank and throw an opponent off his game, you recklessly released contradictory and poorly researched information in an effort to destroy a young man’s reputation. We used to expect better from you. Your “responsibility and character” is now a greater question than DiSomma’s.
Given all the contradictions out of Dallas, there are now more questions than answers about this situation.
MMM would rather get “scooped” by the shoddy work of the APP and NJ.com than to report falsehoods and half-truths. We’re not shy about taking shots at politicians, Republicans or Democrats, but not before we’ve done our homework.
For their part, DiSomma and the Red Bank Republicans have thus far resisted the temptation to retaliate with personal attacks against the Red Bank Democratic candidates.