Former Booker Foe Pleads Guilty in Witness Bribery Scheme

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The former prosecutor who tried to unseat Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker has pleaded guilty in a witness bribery conspiracy.

    The former prosecutor who tried to unseat Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker last year pleaded guilty Tuesday in a witness bribery conspiracy and coverup scheme.

    Clifford Minor, 68, admitted that he tried to save his client, Abdul Williams, 34, of East Orange, from an illegal weapon possession charge by having another man confess to having the weapon in his possession at the time of the crime.

    An FBI investigation ended with Minor being charged with conspiracy to use a facility in interstate commerce to commit witness bribery, use of an interstate facility to facilitate bribery, obstruction of justice, falsification of records, lying under oath and lying to federal agents.

    The scheme involved taking $3,500 from Williams and then getting another man, Jamal Muhammad, 32, of Newark, to go with him to the Newark Police Department where Muhammad said he had been in possession of the gun.

    Much of the conspiracy was secretly recorded by FBI agents, including Minor coaching Williams in how to post bail for Muhammad.

    When the FBI and U.S. attorneys started to question him, he then, as he admitted in court, proceeded to lie to them about his involvement.

    Minor is a former Essex County prosecutor who ran in last year's non-partisan mayoral race against Booker.

    He was seen by many political observers as a sort of surrogate for disgraced former Mayor Sharpe James, who had beaten Booker in 2000 and then decided not to run four years later when Booker won his first term.

    Minor picked up much of James' support, especially in James' home turf of the South Ward; Booker won by a tighter-than-expected 59 percent to 41 percent re-election margin.

    Sentencing is set for July 18, when Minor faces a maximum 60 years in prison, though he is likely to get less time.

    He is also immediately disbarred as a lawyer.

    Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY