PATERSON, NJ – Councilman Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman sister-in-law testified on Thursday that he had moved in with her family in their Paterson home in January 2011.
The woman, Shaly Zaman, who is married to the councilman’s brother, said Akhtaruzzaman brought luggage when he came to her home at 109 Carlisle Street and had his own keys to the house.
The timing of Akhtaruzzaman’s move from Totowa to Paterson is a key issue in former councilman Aslon Goow’s lawsuit. Goow is seeking to have the man who beat him in the May 8 2nd Ward election removed from office on grounds that he did not fulfill the residency requirement of living in the city a year before the contest.
Akhtaruzzaman has said he left Totowa to stay with his brother in January 2011 and that he moved into 122 Carlisle in July with his wife and children.
Zaman testified that Akhtaruzzaman had his own bedroom during his six-month stay at her home. She said her oldest daughter was married and lived elsewhere, her two sons were attending Rutgers University at the time and lived on campus in New Brunswick and her youngest daughter slept in a bed with her. Zaman said her husband slept on the floor in their bedroom because he had been ill and he felt better that way.
Goow’s attorney, Michael DeMarco, pursued questions to try to undermine the image that it was convenient for Akhtaruzzaman to stay with his brother’s family for six months. He questioned Zaman about the arrangement in which she slept with her daughter while her husband slept on the floor. He asked whether the youngest daughter ever had her own room. Zaman said she did not.
DeMarco also asked what kind of illness made her husband more comfortable on the floor. She said he had had a heart bypass and it was easier for him to be connected to a “machine” on the floor.
At the outset of Thursday’s proceedings, Akhtaruzzaman’s lead attorney, Joe Garcia, again asked the judge to be removed from the case in light of the fact that his client had retained another lawyer, Curtis La Forge, to help on the case. Garcia said having two attorneys represent Akhtaruzzaman would be like having “too many chefs in the kitchen.’’
But La Forge argued that he did not know the facts of the case well enough to go forward as Akhataruzzaman only lawyer unless he had a 30-day delay to catch up. “There’s a lot of information in this case that I have not been made aware of,’’ La Forge said.
Even Goow’s lawyer objected to the prospect of Garcia being removed, arguing that Akhataruzzaman would use La Forge unfamiliarity with the case as the basis for an appeal if Goow were to win.
Superior Court Judge Thomas Brogan ruled that Garcia should continue to represent the councilman.
The trial is scheduled to resume Monday at 10 am.