Sharpe James, former mayor of Newark, NJ, went on trial yesterday for fraud in a federal courthouse. The most colorful item to come out of Assistant US Attorney Phillip Kown's opening statement was the matter of his mistress' enrichment courtesy of the taxpayers of Newark. Leonard Greene of the New York Post writes:
With no qualifications or no experience in construction or development, Tamika Riley, 38 - who has referred to herself as James' "$700,000 piece of ass" - managed to flip city-owned property for hundreds of thousands of dollars, the feds claim.
"He used and abused his position and office," Assistant US Attorney Phillip Kwon told the seven men and five women on the Newark Federal Court jury. "He did so not because she was a developer [but] because she was his girlfriend."
In all, James, who was a five-term mayor, is facing five charges, including fraud and conspiracy. Riley faces those charges and eight others, including tax evasion.
One of the best movies ever made about politics is Street Fight (available on DVD), a documentary chronicling the 2002 mayoral race in Newark, when Cory Booker challenged Sharpe James, ultimately losing to a very dirty fight from the James camp. The next time that Newark voters got a chance to vote for mayor, Booker was elected. In my opinion, Booker is one of the most promising politicians in America. Watch Street fight and see for yourself. He may be a Democrat, but he is the real thing when it comes to leadership.
Hat tip: Richard Baehr