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Ronald Salahuddin, former Deputy Mayor of Newark indicted February 18, 2010

Posted by jefhenninger in News.
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It seems like Newark just doesn’t change huh?  Cory Booker will probably run for Governor in a few years and this is the last thing he needs.  However, his office clearly assisted in the investigation so that should be good for him.  

Ronald Salahuddin, former Deputy Mayor for Public Safety for the City of Newark, today was charged by a federal grand jury in a five-count Indictment with corruptly using his official position and influence to advance the business and financial interests of his business partner and himself in connection with City of Newark demolition business. 

Also named in the Indictment is Sonnie L. Cooper, owner and president of S. Cooper Brothers Trucking, Inc. (“Cooper Trucking”), a company that engaged in the business of conducting demolition, waste-hauling and street sweeping, for both municipal government and private entities in Essex County and elsewhere. The Indictment alleges that Salahuddin and Cooper had an ongoing financial relationship that Salahuddin took steps to conceal, including a partnership in a waste-hauling business. In addition to their relationship as business partners in waste hauling, Salahuddin had provided financial backing to Cooper. 

An arraignment for Salahuddin, 59, of East Orange, and Cooper, 67, of Springfield, will be scheduled by the U.S. District Judge to whom the case will be assigned. 

The Indictment describes a scheme in which Salahuddin conspired with Cooper and others from July 2006 to December 2007 to have Salahuddin use his office to steer demolition contracts in Newark to an individual, who was cooperating with federal authorities (referred to in the Indictment as the CW). Salahuddin agreed to do so in exchange for the CW’s agreement to give Cooper and his company a portion of demolition business that the CW’s company was to receive from the City of Newark and other entities, including the New Jersey Devils hockey team. In exchange for his efforts to get business for the CW, Salahuddin also solicited and accepted charitable contributions from the CW to organizations supported by Newark officials and encouraged the CW to give concealed political contributions. 

The Newark Mayor’s Office and the New Jersey Devils have been cooperating in the investigation. 

The Indictment charges that in 2006 an individual referred to in the Indictment as the Consultant initially arranged for Salahuddin and Cooper to meet the CW. The Consultant advised the CW that the Consultant had met with Salahuddin, and that Salahuddin would be able to help the CW obtain Newark demolition work, but that a portion of the work would need to be given to Cooper. 

On numerous dates between September 2006 and December 2007, Salahuddin met or spoke with the CW to discuss steering both public and private demolition contracts, including demolition contracts involving the Prudential Center development in  Newark, and that Salahuddin took many steps to fulfill their arrangement. 

The Indictment further details Salahuddin’s plan to exclude other contractors from receiving Newark demolition work in order to “reciprocate” on the arrangement with the CW. The Indictment further charges that Salahuddin received approximately $45,000 from Cooper between May and August 2007, including a $5,000 check that was funded from proceeds of a check for demolition work that Cooper had received from the CW. The Indictment alleges that Salahuddin caused that $5,000 check to be deposited into his own bank account on July 23, 2007 

The Indictment further alleges that Salahuddin represented that contributions by the CW to organizations supported by City of Newark officials, including Salahuddin, would enable the CW to receive more demolition business. The Indictment specifically alleges that in December 2006 Salahuddin accepted a $5,000 check to a charitable organization supported by City of Newark officials from the CW and later encouraged the CW to use nominees to structure the CW’s political contributions in Newark. 

Count One charges both defendants with conspiracy to obstruct commerce by extortion under color of official right, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Count Two charges both defendants with attempt to obstruct commerce by extortion under color of official right, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Counts Three, Four and Five charge one or both defendants with soliciting, accepting and agreeing to accept things of value to influence and reward a local government agent, each count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. 

Newark City Attorney Neil Braunstein Arrested on Extortion Charges May 26, 2009

Posted by jefhenningeresq in News.
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Detectives from the Newark Inspector General’s Office and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office have arrested Newark municipal attorney Neil Braunstein on extortion charges.  The story is a little unclear right now as it indicates that Braunstein allegedly threatened to accuse Julian Neals, Newark’s corporation counsel, of some unknown offense unless he got $750,000 or a better job.  However, the story also indicates that he allegedly demanded both money and a better job. 

As an attorney, the first thing I want to know is, well, everything about the entire situation as I am sure there are many sides to this story.  I also want to know if any alleged conversation is on tape and/or if there is more than one witness to the conversation.  Witnesses need to be interviewed right now as in before the weekend before anyone else knows which end is up.  Otherwise, once things get moving, everyone is going to clam up.

Unless the evidence is overwhelming, this could be a really fun case to try. It could really turn Newark’s government upside down (yeah, I know, don’t say it).

Story is here.