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Monday, May 12, 2008

James avoids second corruption trial, faces 10 to 15 years in prison

U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Chris Christie announced Monday that he will not pursue charges in court against former Newark Mayor Sharpe James stemming from Mr. James’ alleged use of city money for frivolous expenses.

Mr. Christie said a guilty verdict in that case – following Mr. James' conviction earlier this year for helping a mistress secure cheap Newark land for later profitable sales - would not result in further jail time for Mr. James, while costing taxpayers thousands of additional dollars to prosecute.

“We believe that justice was served on the day the jury convicted the former mayor on all of the corruption charges against him and, as a consequence, by the significant prison term that he likely faces,” said Mr. Christie in a statement, according to

The second court case would have revolved around Mr. James’ use of nearly $60,000 in city funds on lavish expenditures, including restaurant bills, pornographic movies, and outrageous vacations with numerous friends of the opposite sex.

But a conviction in connection with those allegations would not really add onto the conviction in the earlier trial, which means that Mr. James, 72, faces more than a decade in prison.

Mr. James was a good friend and supporter of former Trenton Police Director Joseph Santiago, who is awaiting an Appellate Division hearing in June that could mean the end of his tenure as head police administrator in Trenton.

Other James cronies in Trenton include current Communications Director Irving Bradley, and former gang czar Barry Colicelli, who was ousted by Trenton City Council earlier this year after his invoices failed to provide a record of what exactly Mr. Colicelli was doing for the city, in return for a lucrative city contract.

Perhaps Trenton’s residents would be well served if Mr. Christie came to the state capital and verified that records of Trenton's city government, which surely receives hundreds of thousands in federal dollars for crime-related and other efforts, are all in order.

Considering the amount of Sharpe James garbage floating around down here, it may be worth a look.