Passaic Councilman to plead guilty today

18 12 2007

Passaic City Councilman Marcellus Jackson has a date in federal court today to plead guilty to corruption charges growing out of a bribes-for-votes probe that netted 11 public officials across the state.

Jackson, 38, a Baptist deacon who was reelected to the City Council in May, was expected to admit his guilt during a scheduled 11 a.m. hearing before U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson in Trenton, her chambers said Monday.

He would become the sixth defendant to be convicted as a result of an FBI sting code-named “Operation Broken Boards.”

J. Gregory Reinert, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie, said the office does not comment on upcoming pleas.

Clifton defense attorney Miles R. Feinstein confirmed that Jackson intends to plead guilty at the hearing. He declined to comment further.

The councilman was arrested Sept. 6 on charges that he solicited and accepted $16,500 in bribes in exchange for using his influence to steer business to representatives of an FBI undercover company.

The insurance brokerage, Coastal Solutions of Egg Harbor Township, employed cooperating witnesses and undercover agents who passed out more than $150,000 in bribes during the probe.

Former state Assemblyman Alfred Steele of Paterson and four past and present members of the Pleasantville Board of Education have so far admitted they accepted payoffs to influence the award of public contracts.

Three others — Orange Mayor Mims Hackett Jr.; Keith Reid, the former chief of staff for Newark’s council president; and James McCormick, a former Pleasantville school board member — have been indicted for allegedly extorting bribes and are awaiting trial.

Passaic Mayor Sammy Rivera and Jonathan Soto, a former councilman, also arrested in the September sweep, have been granted 60-day continuances in their cases.

Between January and May of this year, authorities charged that Jackson met in Egg Harbor Township, at an Atlantic City hotel, and in cars in Clifton and Newark to accept bribes from the FBI’s operatives. Many of the meetings were recorded by the FBI.

Initially cautious, Jackson appeared to relax as the cash payments flowed.

“I appreciate it, baby. Good things is going to happen,” he allegedly said on April 5 after accepting $6,000 from one of the cooperating witnesses.

Rivera said Tuesday that Jackson has been a “longtime friend” and that “I have my prayers for him.”

“I wish him the best,” he added.

Rivera said he didn’t believe that Jackson’s plea would affect his case, “One thing doesn’t have to do with the other,” he said. He referred all further questions to his attorney, Henry E. Klingeman.

Jackson, 37, an inspector for the Passaic Valley Sewage Commission, has served on the City Council for more than six years. He first ran for election in 2001 and lost, placing sixth in a field of eight candidates. But the council appointed him to serve out Rivera’s council term after Rivera was elected mayor. Jackson then sought to be elected in a November special election. At that time, the state attorney general announced it would not try to bar Jackson from the ballot, despite a prior drug conviction.

Jackson has played an active role in city political life as the former president of the city’s Democratic club and the lone black councilman on the seven-member council. Jackson is a deacon at the Calvary Baptist Church in Garfield.

Since his arrest in September, Jackson has continued to attend City Council meetings and play an active role in politics.

Calvin Merritt, president of the Passaic chapter of the NAACP, said even if Jackson pleads guilty, he will consider him a friend.

“If he did what the government is saying, I would say it was an error of judgment on his part,” he said, then added: “Friendship goes beyond things like this. You can tell who your true friends are when trouble arises.” NorthJersey.com

We at P.C.J.N. wish Passaic City Councilman Marcellus Jackson  all the best on behalf of the Passaic/Clifton  Jewish Community.

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5 responses

23 12 2007
njems1

why would he plead guilty if he’s not guilty?

23 12 2007
NJEMS1

What is known to be true is: What goes up in the wrong but quick way, must come down in a punishing way. He deserves everything that comes to him. In all that he has accomplished. He definetly forgot where he got it from. LMAO

23 12 2007
NJEMS1

JAIL, JAIL, JAIL, HE DESERVES TO GO TO JAIL.!

2 01 2008
Duvy

Jackson is actually a nice guy unfortunately he fell into a big hole and he got stuck im sure everyone in Passaic wishes him the Best and we hope to see him back soon.

2 01 2008
Anonymous

Hes a good guy. There are many worse people involved in politics. He definitely does not deserve to go to jail.

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