Newark firm owned by Linda Jumah received $65,000 from Baraka campaign

Elite Strategies CEO Kiburi Tucker and business partner Linda Jumah, who both have close business and personal ties to the city, will be sentenced next month on charges of tax evasion and wire fraud. Credits: Semi Thompson, AEOW
Mayor Ras Baraka and Linda O. Jumah, whose company, Elite Strategies, received $65,000 from the mayor's campaign fund. Jumah pleaded guilty to federal tax evasion charges. Credits: Harry Prott

The Newark firm owned by Linda O. Jumah, who pleaded guilty to federal tax evasion charges, received at least $65,000 in consulting fees from Mayor Ras Baraka's campaign committee.

Records show that between July 2015 and April 2017, the Baraka campaign shelled out three payments 0f $17,400, $19,000 and $28,000 to Elite Strategies, LLC, the company owned by Jumah and her business partner, Kiburi Tucker, who spearheaded the black tie, $1,000-a-plate Mayor’s Ball in July, 2015.

Elite Strategies also sent out an email blast for Team Baraka and has issued statements on behalf of the mayor, such as an April 2016 announcement of a deal between the city and UBER.

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Jumah, 35, pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to intentionally under-reporting income that she received from Elite Strategies LLC in 2015 by filing a false federal personal income tax return.

Jumah admitted that after sharing proceeds with a business partner, she under-reported $121,941 in income for the 2015 tax year, resulting in a tax loss of $39,633. She was released on $75,000 unsecured bond. The tax evasion charge carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 14, 2018.

Tucker, a longtime friend of Baraka's and the son of Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker and the late former Assemblyman and Newark City Councilman Donald Tucker, is the CEO of Elite Strategies.

Jumah, a Newark resident, is a familiar face at city hall and has tried her hand at a variety of pursuits in the city.

In 2011, Jumah launched Luxe Newark, a women’s clothing boutique located on Halsey St., with a catered shindig that featured music, high-end gift bags and Jumah hamming it up with guests on the red carpet.

Although Jumah lists her hometown as Asokwa, Ashanti, Ghana, on her personal Facebook page, Jumah said in a 2011 Face2Face Africa interview during the opening of her boutique that she is originally from Newark and has been in the city her entire life.

During that same interview, Jumah alluded to the possibility of opening a second store location in her parents' native country of Ghana.

The Halsey Street store shuttered its doors just a few years later.

Jumah, who served as a district leader in Newark’s South Ward beginning in 2008, publicly supported then-Councilman Ras Baraka when she put out a 300-word email blast on May 5, 2014.

“The late Honorable Donald Nana Kofi Tucker who was instrumental in establishing the sister city relationship with Kumasi, Ghana recognized the importance of the solidifying the growing Newark-African relationship,” she said, referring to Kiburi Tucker’s father, who served as a Newark councilman from 1974 until his death in 2005.

“After his untimely passing there has been a void between city government and the African community," she wrote. "Councilman Ras Baraka has since begun to fill that void...He is committed to ensuring that all Newark residents have proper representation. Because he understands that we are what makes Newark a beautiful diverse international city. Ras Baraka as mayor of Newark means a voice in city hall for all Newarkers.”

Jumah was nominated by Mayor Baraka in 2014 to the Alcohol Beverage Control Board but was replaced just two years later.

Records from 2016 show that Jumah was employed by the state as a child care quality insurance inspector, earning an annual salary of $51,748. She is currently listed on the Jersey City government website as a principal community organization specialist, serving as a contact for the city's Earned Sick Leave Law, one of Mayor Steve Fulop's early initiatives.

Fulop supported Baraka in the 2014 mayoral election and Baraka, in turn, supported Fulop's gubernatorial run, which was aborted last year before it could be officially launched.

Just months ago, city hall issued a press release announcing that the Newark Department of Recreation would be joining “entrepreneur Linda Jumah” and in hosting the inaugural “Afro Beat Fest” in Military Park in downtown Newark.

The festival--touted as a celebration of African art, food, and music--was a revival of the Africa Newark Street Festival, started in 1988 by Jumah’s father and festival co-founder, Maxwell Kofi Jumah.

Maxwell Jumah, who lives in Ghana, served as the Mayor of Kumasi and was a member of parliament for the Asokwa Constituency in the Ashanti Region of the West African country. In 2015, while running for his old seat in the parliament, he was arrested for tearing up a photo album belonging to the Electoral Commission. He was later fined for the act of vandalism. 

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