Former high-ranking commissioner with new jersey department of corrections indicted on extortion and bribery charges
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 9, 2011
TRENTON, N.J. – A federal grand jury has returned a 12-count Indictment charging a former high-ranking official of the New Jersey Department of Corrections (“NJDOC”) with attempted extortion and solicitation of approximately $52,500 in bribes in connection with his official duties, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Lydell B. Sherrer, 51, of Neptune, N.J., previously served as the Deputy Commissioner of NJDOC and the Assistant Commissioner of NJDOC’s Division of Programs and Community Services. Sherrer was originally charged in a Complaint, filed on October 12, 2010, with two counts of bribery involving two NJDOC employees. The Indictment returned today adds four additional bribery counts involving attempts to receive bribes from three additional NJDOC employees under color of official right, as well as six counts of attempted extortion.
Sherrer is currently released on a $100,000 secured bond, and will be arraigned on the Indictment on a date to be determined.
According to the Indictment and other documents filed in Trenton federal court:
Sherrer solicited money from five separate employees or former employees of NJDOC between February 2010 and October 2010 in exchange for his official action and assistance. The defendant sought a total of $52,500 from the five individuals and received approximately $19,000 in bribes.
In the Complaint, Sherrer was charged with bribing two separate cooperating witnesses – identified in the Indictment as “Individual 1 ” and “Individual 2,” in exchange for his official action and influence in attempting to secure Individual 1 a NJDOC-related job and for assisting Individual 2 with an employment discrimination claim to be brought against NJDOC. In addition to the counts of bribery, the Indictment adds two counts of attempted extortion under color of official right in connection with Sherrer’s solicitation of $10,000 from Individual 1 and $6,500 from Individual 2.
The Indictment identifies three additional victims, referred to as “Individual 3,” “Individual 4,” and “Individual 5,” whom Sherrer attempted to extort under color of official right and from whom he solicited bribe payments in exchange for his official action and assistance. Sherrer agreed to assist Individuals 3, 4 and 5 with NJDOC job opportunities, including hiring Individual 3, promoting Individual 4, and promoting and transferring Individual 5, in exchange for money and benefits. For example, the Indictment describes an instance in May 2010, in which Sherrer met with Individual 4 in his Trenton office, asked if the individual was interested in a promotion, and showed a note that said “10,000” – explaining that Sherrer would attempt to secure a promotion for the employee in exchange for $10,000.
The extortion counts charged in Counts One through Six of the Indictment each carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. The bribery charges contained in Counts Seven through 12 each carry a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. The Indictment also seeks forfeiture of the $19,000.70 that Sherrer allegedly accepted.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward, for the investigation leading to the charges. He also thanked the New Jersey Department of Corrections Special Investigation Division for their cooperation and assistance throughout the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Skahill of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Camden.
The charges and allegations contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Defense counsel: Lisa Van Hoeck Esq., Assistant-in-Charge, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Trenton, N.J.