Martini clashes with prosecutor in James sentencing

NEWARK - Facing an increasingly indignant district judge, Assistant U.S. Attorney Judith Germano said she wants 15-20 years, or the maximum penalty for former Newark Mayor Sharpe James.

"Your Honor, committing crimes does not come with an AARP card, this is not the movies," Assistant U.S. Attorney Judith Germano said, referring to the 72-year old James. "He was healthy enough to travel to the Dominican Republic with Tamika Riley."

Judge William Martini objected to that last point, which is not part of this case, he argued. In an increasingly angry tone, he also challenged Germano’s more general references to James.

"You throw out a person’s entire history because of one instance in his life where he committed a wrong?" Martini wanted to know.

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James and Riley make statements to the court

NEWARK - Former Newark Mayor Sharpe James approached the judge Sharpe JamesSharpe Jamesmoments earlier and thanked him for his "professionalism" in the way he's run the trial.

"I would like to apologize to my wife (sons and mother)...for suffering they have had to endure," James said. "I would like to thank the citizens of Newark...we've become an extended family."

He insisted he did not mean any harm. 

"I'm simply trying to make Newark a better place than I found it in 1986," said the former mayor. "If I made a mistake, Your Honor, it was not of malice. I would never do anything to hurt the people of Newark."

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Turner calls for leniency in James case

NEWARK - Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Mercer) submitted a letter to the court on behalf of former Newark Mayor Sharpe James, part of which defense attorney Thomas Ashley read to U.S. District Judge William Martini.

"The events represent a brief period in a long and illustrious career," Turner wrote. "...I am convinced he is not likely to commit another offense."

The crime of fraud, said Turner, represented a departure from James’s otherwise distinguished public service as a teacher and elected official, in her view.

Sen. Bill Baroni (R-Mercer), Tuner's Republican state Senate colleague and fellow member of the Mercer County delegation, last week wrote a letter to Martini with three other GOP lawmakers, asking the judge to impose the maximum penalty. 

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James awaits sentencing in Newark

Sentencing of former Newark Mayor Sharpe James is underway this morning at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Building, where James hopes to avoid the maximum sentencing for fraud.

U.S. District Judge William Martini specified in his opening exchanges with prosecutors that James’s ex-girlfriend, Tamika Riley, successfully rehabilitated city housing properties in question, and the taxpayers experienced no financial loss.

But financial loss is not the issue, said the judge.

"There was a fraud here, and it involved (Ms. Riley) obtaining properties without knowledge by the public," Martini said. "...The failure of the mayor to disclose his relationship with Tamika Reilly is a deprivation of public services."

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Being Barack Obama

What position currently held by Barack Obama will John McCain switch to next week?

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Corzine joins Obama for economic summit


WASHINGTON - JULY 28: Presumed Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) (L) meets with some of his top economic advisors including (L-R) SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger, Citi Group Director and Chairman of the Executive Committee Robert Rubin and New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine at the Omni Shoreham hotel July 28, 2008 in Washington, DC. Obama called the two-hour meeting to discuss the current economic situation in the United States, including high gasoline prices and the collapse of the mortgage market. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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In Orange, Hawkins sticks to two public salaries - instead of three

ORANGE - Battling criticism, Mayor Eldridge Hawkins, Jr., today backed down from receiving a $25,000 mayor’s salary on top of his existing salary as fire director, according to spokeswoman Linda Cofer Hawkins.

That thins Hawkins’s public salary to $79,700 for his jobs as fire director ($76,000) and emergency management coordinator ($3,700).

In a statement, the newly sworn-in mayor acknowledged the negative response caused by his initial designs on a $104,700 annual salary.

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The Back Room

Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: April 17, 2014

Bergen Dems demand Donovan cancel fundraiser with Christie after unlimited contributions commentsHACKENSACK - Bergen County Democratic Chairman Lou Stellato called on Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan to cancel a fundraiser scheduled for May 5 with Gov. Chris Christie after he made remarks on allowing unlimited campaign contributions to political...

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Op-Ed

The future of NJ Politics should not be politicians investigating politicians

By JON BRAMNICK Voices around the country agree with our concern that "bipartisan committee led by John Wisniewski is partisan." Below are observers who agree Wisneiwski's committee is not bipartisan: Chuck Todd, NBC News: "Democrats made a mistake... Read More >

Contributors

(4-16-14) New Jersey Vote By Mail Law - The voter turnout for New Jersey’s November gubernatorial election was the lowest since the days of prohibition, coming... more »
When it comes to profiling Christie, facts are for wussies (4/10/14) - As the national media stories on our Guv pile up, expect more blunders about the Garden State.... more »
This week I begin a series called Dispatches from Somewhere Else. Based on my on-going experiences as an everyman in New Jersey politics, these Dispatches review the hollowness of... more »
Watching Governor Chris Christie's shocking BridgeGate implosion, it's easy to forget the time when he truly seemed unstoppable.  Blessed with incredible political gifts and a Jersey bluster to match,... more »

Quote of the Day

Quote of the day

“The new agenda is charter schools. It’s a profit-making business. $500 million will not be in our hands. The school board is an advisory board. We are not going to tell the governor to unleash the dollars. Don’t be fooled. It’s not abracadabra. It’s politics.” - Paterson Mayor Jeff Jones

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