An Essex County judge has ruled that former Newark Mayor Sharpe James violated New Jersey campaign finance laws when he took $94,000 from a campaign account to pay for criminal defense costs. The judge ordered James to reimburse the campaign fund and fined him $30,000.
A lawsuit that led to the ruling was filed in 2011 by the state Election Law Enforcement Commission. Executive director Jeff Brindle said he is pleased with the judge’s decision.”It sends a message out of the general public that the commission is very serious about enforcing the campaign laws,” Brindle said. “And it sends out a message to candidates and committees that this is a very important area of the electoral process and that it needs to be abided by.”James was convicted of fraud in 2008 for conspiring to rig the sale of Newark city land to his mistress and was sentenced to 27 months in prison.