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Rutherford man sentenced for trying to pay $10,000 to have drug, weapons charges dropped

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A Rutherford man was sentenced this morning to three months in federal prison, followed by three months of home confinement with electronic monitoring, for trying to pay someone at the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office $10,000 to have criminal charges dropped against him.

Mahmud Hammad, 37, was arrested in May 2012 on drug and weapons possession charges during a Woodland Park Police “Click It or Ticket” checkpoint aimed at catching people not wearing their seatbelts.

While asking for credentials, an officer smelled marijuana inside Hammad’s 2008 Infiniti SUV, police said at the time.

They said they found some pot, along with a can of pepper spray marked “For Law Enforcement Only,” two hypodermic needles, and bottles of bottles of steroids and Oxycodone.

Hammad, who previously owned the Lava Hookah Lounge in Paterson, admitted that he met in July 2012 with a person who turned out to be an undercover FBI agent claiming to have access to Passaic County authorities.

The agent recorded Hammad paying $1,500 as “good faith” money toward a $10,000 reward to have the criminal case dismissed.

His attorney today called Hammad a “good family man” who donated a kidney to his daughter but made a silly mistake. Once a nightclub owner, he’s now operating a food truck, the lawyer said.

“In my heart, I am not a criminal,” Hammad told the judge.

U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman credited the FBI with making the case, which was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Llanes of his Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.

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