Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Corruption: US - Prominent attorney sentenced in witness bribery conspiracy, cover-up.

U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Jersey

NEWARK, NJ—Clifford Minor, 68, of Newark, was sentenced today to 24 months in prison for his role in conspiring to commit bribery in connection with witness testimony and for committing perjury, obstructing justice, and falsifying records in furtherance of the scheme, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Minor was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise in Newark federal court. He had previously pleaded guilty to charges contained in a second superseding indictment unsealed September 23, 2010: conspiracy to use a facility in interstate commerce to commit witness bribery, use of an interstate facility to facilitate bribery, obstruction of justice, falsification of records, lying under oath, and lying to federal agents.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Minor admitted he conspired with Abdul Williams, 34, of East Orange, N.J., and Jamal Muhammad, 33, of Newark, to knowingly facilitate Muhammad’s confession to a crime he did not commit. While Williams was in an Essex County jail following his June 2007 arrest for possession of a firearm, Minor escorted Muhammad to the Newark Police Department to confess to possessing the firearm for which Williams had been arrested. Muhammad was arrested following his false confession, and Minor was captured in recorded telephone calls instructing Williams how to post Muhammad’s bail. Minor also admitted he was paid $3,500 by Williams for his participation in the conspiracy.

Minor also pleaded guilty to a variety of offenses relating to his attempts to cover up the conspiracy once federal authorities began investigating. On Dec. 21, 2009, Minor was served with a grand jury subpoena for production of documents concerning his purported representation of Muhammad. Minor agreed voluntarily to meet with FBI agents and Assistant U.S. Attorneys on January 29, 2010. Represented by counsel, Minor made several false statements under oath, including that he had no communications with Williams concerning his representation of Muhammad; he had been retained by Muhammad; he had been paid $500 by Muhammad for the representation; he met with Muhammad prior to July 5, 2007; he had no indication that Muhammad’s false statement was made in return for a bribe, and he had never been involved in any case involving Williams.

In addition, Minor manufactured and produced to the U.S. Attorney’s Office a false “Agreement to Provide Legal Services,” dated July 5, 2007, that stated Minor had received a $500 fee to represent Muhammad.

As a condition of his guilty plea, Minor was required to file a notice with the N.J. State Bar permanently surrendering his license to practice law, with prejudice, and to comply with all procedures to surrender his license as required by the state bars in all states in which he is licensed to practice. Finally, Minor forfeited $8,500 he was paid in connection with his representation of Muhammad, which constituted or was derived from proceeds traceable to the commission of the offenses.

In addition to his prison sentence, Judge Debevoise sentenced Minor to three years’ supervised release, fined him $6,000 and ordered him to pay $8,500 in restitution.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward, with the investigation leading to the charges.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anthony J. Mahajan, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Narcotics/Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Unit, and Robert Frazer, of the Office’s Organized Crime/Gangs Unit in Newark.

Defense counsel: Thomas R. Ashley Esq., Newark, N.J.; Stephen Turano Esq., New York, N.Y.