NEWARK, NJ - A Paterson City Council member and former council president admitted on Wednesday to accepting bribes from a purported developer in exchange for his official help, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Anthony Davis, 50, of Paterson pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William H. Walls in Newark federal court to charges that included one count of attempting to obstruct, delay and affect interstate commerce by extortion under color of official right.

On April 20, 2012, Davis accepted $5,000 in cash from an individual who was cooperating with federal authorities and who said he was a real estate developer from outside New Jersey. Davis accepted the bribe in exchange for his official action as Paterson City Council president to foster the developer’s business interests in Paterson.

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Between July 6, 2012, and July 25, 2012, Davis had meetings with the developer during which Davis discussed the possibility of accepting additional money from the developer in exchange for a letter from Davis to the developer’s lender indicating that the Paterson City Council supported the developer with respect to certain business deals in Paterson. On July 25, 2012, Davis agreed to accept and accepted $5,000 in cash from the developer in exchange for such a letter.

The extortion count to which Davis pleaded guilty is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000 or "twice the gross pecuniary loss or gain from the offense." Sentencing is scheduled for March 18, 2015.