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Ex-Newark Police Officer Goes To Fed Pen For 9 Years For Kickback Scheme

MLK Courthouse, Newark
MLK Courthouse, Newark Photo Credit: Marcelo Gambetta Larronda

A former Newark police officer is headed to federal prison for the next nine years for paying kickbacks to a corrupt official for a private security contract.

Janell Robinson, 45, of Newark must serve just about all of the entire sentence because there’s no parole in the federal prison system.

Jurors in U.S. District Court in Newark convicted Robinson last February of conspiring in a massive corruption scheme with Linda Watkins Brashear, the former executive director of the Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corporation (NWCDC).

The NWCDC provided water to half a million New Jersey residents before it was closed in 2013 amid a federal corruption probe.

Robinson, who also was convicted of mail fraud following the 10-day trial, was working as a Newark police officer when she controlled a company that purported to provide security consulting services to its one and only client, the NWCDC, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig said.

Robinson conspired to pay Brashear, of West Orange, “a stream of concealed and undisclosed kickbacks from the proceeds that P&S received from the NWCDC” in exchange for her help securing contracts, Honig said.

Brashear approved bogus and inflated invoices submitted by Robinson, she added.

In the end, the NWCDC paid P&S roughly $289,000, of which Robinson kicked back $50,000 to Bashear, the U.S. attorney said.

Brashear, who authorities said collected nearly $1 million in kickbacks from contractors who did little or no work, pleaded guilty to her role in the scheme and was sentenced in September 2017 to 102 months in federal prison.

She received leniency in exchange for cooperation, which included what resulted in her testifying against Robinson.

In addition to the prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton sentenced Robinson to three years of supervised release and ordered her to pay $288,950 in restitution.

Honig credited special agents of the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation with the investigation leading to the conviction and sentence, secured by Senior Trial Counsel Leslie F. Schwartz of her Special Prosecutions Division.

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