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NEWARK, N.J. – A former commissioner with the now-defunct Paterson Municipal Utilities Authority (PMUA) today admitted his role in two schemes to steal funds from the authority, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Erik Lowe, 50, of Paterson, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares to an information charging him with one count of conspiring to commit extortion under color of official right and one count of extortion under color of official right.

According to documents filed in this and other cases and statements made in court:

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Lowe was a commissioner of the PMUA from February 2009 through May 2015 and exercised control over the authority’s finances. The PMUA was created to manage the hydroelectric plant on the Passaic River in Paterson and to care for and manage certain surrounding properties.

Lowe and Carnell Baskerville, a self-employed contractor, entered into an agreement whereby Lowe would approve payments from the PMUA to Baskerville’s company for services. Both men knew Baskerville had not performed and would not perform any services. Between December 2014 and May 2015, Lowe wrote $146,500 in checks from the PMUA to Baskerville’s company. Lowe directed Baskerville to deposit these checks into Baskerville’s bank account and to kick back to Lowe a significant percentage of this amount in cash to reward Lowe and a fellow MUA commissioner for their official assistance in carrying out the scheme. Baskerville pleaded guilty in February 2018 to his role in the scheme and is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 6, 2018.

From August 2012 through November of 2014, Lowe engaged in a similar scheme with a second contractor whose company installed and repaired fences for residential homes and commercial business. Lowe admitted that initially he inflated the checks paid to this contractor substantially above the value of the jobs the contractor performed so that the contractor could kick back thousands of dollars to Lowe. Near the end of the scheme, Lowe was issuing checks worth thousands of dollars to the contractor knowing that no job had been or would be performed. Lowe issued checks totaling $141,700 to the contractor and accepted tens of thousands of dollars in kickbacks.

The two counts to which Lowe pleaded guilty each carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 11, 2018.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark J. McCarren of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.

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African Heritage Parade a Success

June 18, 2018

Dear Editor: 

I am writing this letter to publicly apologize to the African Heritage Parade Committee and its chief organizer, Ms. Ada Pugh.

I’ll explain why. Throughout the years I have been quite critical of the parade. I would often offer scaving objections to the planning, preparation, and even down to the marching itself. I have a tendency to be tough. I won’t ...

Pou Bill to Assist Saving for Higher Education Through Tax Deduction Advances

June 19, 2018

TRENTON - A bill sponsored by Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Nellie Pou that would assist parents saving for their children's college tuition through a gross income tax deduction passed the Senate Higher Education Committee today.

"This bill will give parents another incentive to save for their children's higher education," said Senator Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen) ...

Pascrell, Nadler, Congressional Colleagues Make Surprise Visit to ICE Detention Center to See Separated Families, Jail Conditions

ELIZABETH, NJ – This morning, U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09), and Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY-08), Frank Pallone (D-NJ-06), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-12), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY-13), and Albio Sires (D-NJ-08) arrived at the ICE Detention Center in Elizabeth, New Jersey on Father’s Day morning and demanded to see the parents of families ...

Sports Betting Is Off And Running in New Jersey

June 15, 2018

OCEANPORT, NJ — Governor Phil Murphy officially ushered in sports betting in New Jersey when he made the initial wager at Monmouth Park  on June 14.

Governor Murphy, an avid soccer fan who has called ESPN’s “Sportscenter” his favorite show, placed the first bet  — $20 on Germany to win the World Cup. He also bet $20 on the N.J. Devils to ...

Senator Pou’s Statement on Hurricane Maria Evacuee Session

June 9, 2018

PATERSON, NJ- Senator Nellie Pou (D-Paterson) released the following statement regarding the Hurricane Maria Evacuee session to be held on Monday, June 11, in Paterson:


I am happy that we are able to bring these types of informational sessions to the residents of Paterson and surrounding areas to ensure that Hurricane Maria evacuees are made aware of the programs available to them ...