Former Newark Deputy Mayor Sentenced To One Year In Prison For Extortion Conspiracy
TRENTON, N.J. – Former Newark, N.J., Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Ronald Salahuddin was sentenced today to one year and one day in prison for conspiring to commit extortion by using his official position to steer demolition work to co-defendant Sonnie L. Cooper, a Newark businessman, and obtain contributions to organizations favored by Newark officials, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson imposed the sentence today in Trenton federal court. A jury returned a guilty verdict against Salahuddin, 61, and Cooper, 69, following a five-week trial in October 2011. Salahuddin and Cooper were both convicted of one count of conspiracy to extort under the color of official right. They were each acquitted of one count of attempted extortion under the color of official right, and two counts of bribery. Salahuddin also was acquitted of an additional count of bribery.
According to documents filed in this case and the evidence at trial:
Shortly after Salahuddin became deputy mayor in July 2006 and through December 2007, Salahuddin and Cooper conspired to use Salahuddin’s official position to steer City of Newark and Prudential Center demolition work to a cooperating witness who, in exchange for Salahuddin’s official action and influence, had to give a portion of that work to Cooper, the owner of S. Cooper Brothers Trucking Inc. (“Cooper Trucking”).
Salahuddin solicited and accepted contributions from the cooperating witness to organizations favored by Newark officials in exchange for his official action and influence. While deputy mayor, Salahuddin maintained a concealed financial interest in Cooper Trucking. Salahuddin mortgaged approximately $900,000 worth of property as collateral for Cooper Trucking, loaned money to Cooper for payroll and received money from Cooper related to the company’s operations.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Wolfson sentenced Salahuddin to two years of supervised release and a $5,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI’s Trenton and Newark Field Offices, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge David Velazquez; and IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen, for the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Harvey Bartle of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Trenton, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys James B. Nobile, chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division, and Zahid N. Quraishi of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division, in Newark.
Defense counsel: Thomas Ashley Esq., Newark