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Former Essex prosecutor admits lying to feds in client’s gun charge

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

Former Essex County Prosecutor Clifford Minor admitted today that he helped a client wriggle out from under a weapons possession charge by having another man confess to the crime.

Clifford Minor

Minor, 68, of Newark, pleaded guilty in Newark this morning to every count against him brought in an indictment unsealed last September, including conspiracy, obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI, among others.

Minor admitted that he conspired with Abdul Williams, 34, of East Orange, N.J., and
Jamal Muhammad, 32, of Newark, to have Muhammad confess to the crime that had put Williams in the Essex County Jail in June 2007 — all for $3,500.

The former prosecutor, who began his career with the Newark Police Department and unsuccessfully challenged Cory Booker to become mayor, also pleaded guilty to several offenses in connection with trying to cover up the crime once federal agents were on his tail.

Minor escorted Muhammad to the Newark Police Department, where the suspect was arrested following the false confession, the government said.

Federal authorities said they recorded Minor telling Williams how to post Muhammad’s bail.

Minor aadmitted lying to FBI agents and federal prosecutors on Jan. 29 last year — telling them, for instance that he hadn’t spoke to Williams about Muhammad or had any legal dealings with Williams.

Muhammad was his client, he told them, while producing a bogus “Agreement to Provide Legal Services,” dated July 5, 2007, that purported to show Minor receiving a $500 fee to represent Muhammad.

Minor will be disbarred as part of his plea deal, and must forfeit $8,500 he was paid in connection with his representation of Muhammad.

It’s unclear how much prison time he could be facing. Two of the convictions carry 20-year sentences each; five others bring 5-year stretches each.

U.S. District Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise scheduled a July 18 sentencing date in Newark.

U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman credited special agents of the FBI with making the case, brought by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anthony J. Mahajan, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Narcotics/Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Unit, and Robert Frazer, of the Office’s Organized Crime/Gangs Unit in Newark.

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