NEWARK, NJ — A former Newark code enforcement officer convicted of taking bribes from a man seeking to operate an after-hours social club received a five-year prison sentence on Monday, according to the Office of the Attorney General.
Tajji Williams, 43, appeared before an Essex County jury before pleading guilty to bribery in official and political matters in October 2019. The guilty plea required Williams to resign from his position with the City of Newark and permanently barred him from public employment.
“This prison sentence holds Williams accountable for corruptly using his public position for personal gain,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Williams had a duty to protect the public, but instead he solicited bribes and offered to help this club operator evade city oversight. This was an appalling breach of trust.”
An investigation by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability found Williams abused his powers as a city code enforcement officer by soliciting a $5,000 bribe from an after-hours social club operator in return for special favors. According to a release from the OAG, Williams told the club operator he would provide advance notice of law enforcement activity and priority in the filing and granting of building permits.
After experiencing resistance from the city and city police regarding his social club, the operator notified the New Jersey State Police and cooperated in the investigation, during which Williams accepted payments totaling $1,500.
“A critical mission of OPIA is to root out this type of official misconduct, which undermines the work of government and the trust of the people it serves,” OPIA Director Thomas Eicher said in the release. “We will continue to make strong use of New Jersey’s tough anti-corruption laws to prosecute crooked officials like Williams.”
OPIA’s investigation also led to the indictment of former city code enforcement office clerk Qaadir Royaal, 39, who pleaded guilty to third-degree tampering with public records and was sentenced to three years in prison. Royal admitted to altering a certificate of occupancy for the club operator as well as accepting a bribe of $1,000 from the operator for doing so.
Williams and Royal worked independently of one another, according to the OAG release.