MARCH 04, 2008
The longtime mayor of New Jersey’s largest city is being federally tried this week for orchestrating a scheme in which he steered discounted city property to his young mistress who then sold the land for large profits.
Newark’s 72-year-old married mayor, Sharpe James, arranged for the sale of the city-owned properties to his 38-year-old girlfriend (Tamika Riley) who made a hefty profit from the sales. In all, federal prosecutors say nine city parcels were sold to Riley at a highly discounted rate of $46,000. She immediately sold them for $665,000.
Witnesses expected to take the stand against James include members of his security detail, who will testify about trips and gifts exchanged between the mayor and the mistress nearly half his age. James decided not to seek a sixth term after serving as Newark mayor from 1986 to 2006.
After this trial, the disgraced politician faces a second trial for using a city-issued credit card to pay for nearly $60,000 worth of personal expenses, including trips with a variety of mistresses to luxury resorts in the Caribbean, Martha’s Vineyard and Rio de Janeiro.
That indictment portrays James like a careless rich playboy who repeatedly abused his office, charging taxpayers for stays at upscale hotels, expensive meals at fancy restaurants and airfare for him and his numerous mistresses. Prosecutors even included a detailed table listing more than 150 instances in which the mayor charged personal expenses on his city-issued credit card.
James is just one of numerous public officials recently prosecuted in a vast New Jersey corruption ring that spanned statewide and has already seen 100 convictions of elected officials and contractors who did business with them. He may soon join his fellow corrupt politicians in jail.
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