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Ex-Newark mayor is indicted

July 13, 2007|From the Associated Press

NEWARK, N.J. — State Sen. Sharpe James, who was mayor of Newark for 20 years, was indicted Thursday on charges that he spent city money extravagantly on himself and several women, and that he helped one of his companions rake in more than $500,000 on the fraudulent sale of city land.

James, 71, is accused of using city credit cards for more than $58,000 in personal expenses during trips to locations including Martha's Vineyard, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Rio de Janeiro. He's charged with conspiracy, mail and wire fraud and with engineering the cut-rate sale of city properties.

James, a Democrat who did not seek reelection as mayor last year but remains at the statehouse, helped bring development to downtown Newark, including the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and a controversial city-subsidized hockey arena to open this fall.

"Sharpe James' long history in this city is forever scarred by the allegations contained within this indictment today," U.S. Atty. Christopher J. Christie said. "Sen. James used both his office as mayor and his office as state senator as a personal piggy bank."

James surrendered to the FBI after the indictment was announced. He appeared in court in handcuffs, answering "Yes, I do," when asked whether he understood the charges. The judge set bail at $250,000 and ordered James to surrender his passport and stay in the state.

Hours after the brief hearing, James walked out of the courthouse, promising vindication.

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