TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that a former employee of the City of Newark was sentenced to state prison today for taking a bribe from a man seeking to operate an after-hours social club in return for falsely altering the man’s certificate of occupancy.
Qaadir Royal, 37, of Newark, N.J., a former clerk in the city code enforcement office, was sentenced to three years in prison, including two years of parole ineligibility, by Superior Court Judge Martin G. Cronin in Essex County. He pleaded guilty on April 9 to third-degree tampering with public records.
In pleading guilty, Royal admitted that in December 2016, he used his access to city databases to alter the certificate of occupancy for a man who wanted to operate a rented building as an after-hours social club. Royal altered the certificate of occupancy so it falsely reflected that the man was permitted to operate a retail establishment, when he was not. The state’s investigation revealed that Royal solicited and accepted a bribe of $1,000 from the social club operator in return for falsely altering the record.
Deputy Attorneys General Anthony Robinson and John Nicodemo prosecuted Royal and handled the sentencing for the Division of Criminal Justice. Royal was indicted in an investigation by the State Police Official Corruption Bureau and the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau.
A separate indictment charging bribery and official misconduct is pending against a second city employee who allegedly solicited a bribe from the club operator. Tajji Williams, 42, of Newark, N.J., a suspended city code enforcement officer, allegedly solicited a $5,000 bribe from the club operator and later accepted three payments from him totaling $1,500. Williams allegedly promised the man in return that he would arrange advance notice of law enforcement activity and priority in the filing and granting of building permits. The man had faced resistance from the city and city police about the social club.
Although Williams and Royal worked in the same city office, the alleged conduct of Williams was independent of the conduct of Royal and began earlier in 2016. The club operator notified the State Police about Williams and cooperated in the investigation of both men.
“We are committed to investigating and aggressively prosecuting public employees who abuse their authority or access to government records to enrich themselves,” said Attorney General Grewal. “We are determined to root out such corrupt conduct, which erodes good government and public trust.”
“We urge members of the public to contact us immediately if they learn of misconduct by public officials, as the individual did in this case,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We are working diligently to guard tax dollars and government operations from corrupt influences, and we count on concerned public employees and private citizens to help us in these efforts.”
“In an attempt to enrich himself, Royal abdicated his professional duty by altering building records that are meant to ensure the safety of the public,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Acting Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “This investigation, prosecution, and prison sentence will send a message that the New Jersey State Police and Division of Criminal Justice will remain steadfast in our efforts to investigate and prosecute these types of egregious acts.”
Attorney General Grewal and Director Allende noted that individuals who report public corruption may be able to receive up to a $25,000 reward. The Division of Criminal Justice has a toll-free tip line 866-TIPS-4CJ for the public to confidentially report public corruption. Information on the Public Corruption Reward Program is posted at this link: www.nj.gov/oag/corruption/reward-info.html
Deputy Attorneys General Robinson and Nicodemo are prosecuting the defendants for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau under the supervision of Bureau Chief Anthony Picione. Attorney General Grewal commended the detectives who conducted the investigations for the State Police Official Corruption Bureau North Unit, as well as the attorneys in the Division of Criminal Justice.
Defense Attorney: Rhea Moore, Esq., East Orange, N.J.
Information about the task force is available at www.nj.gov/oag/clergy-abuse.
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