Ex-Mayor of Asbury Park, N.J. Indicted
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ Asbury Park’s former mayor and a political group leader were arrested and charged with conspiracy in the latest set of corruption allegations to emerge from the city’s effort to redevelop its tattered waterfront.
Kenneth E. Saunders Sr., who was mayor from July 1997 to June 2001, and Rayfield James Jr., leader of the political party Asbury United, were each freed on $50,000 bond Wednesday. Each was charged with a single conspiracy count.
Both men are accused of promising an unidentified City Council member, who was cooperating with investigators, a chance to get rich in exchange for voting for the mayor’s choice of developer in 2000.
Besides the conspiracy count, Saunders also was charged with five tax counts for allegedly filing false returns.
According to an indictment, Saunders, 58, and James, 46, met ``numerous″ times from March to October 2000 with the council member.
At one meeting, Saunders asked how much it would cost to pay off a lien on property owned by the council member, the indictment said.
Days later at a restaurant, James told the council member that payment would be made to the council member’s spouse to conceal the source of the money, the indictment said.
Prosecutors have said their cases are supported by 1,000 to 1,500 tape recordings, most from bugs or tapped phones.
The conspiracy counts carry maximum prison sentences of five years, and the tax counts carry maximum sentences of three years.
Messages seeking comment from lawyers for Saunders and James were not returned Wednesday.
In a similar case, former Asbury Park Councilman James Condos and developer Philip Konvitz were indicted in October on charges relating to former City Manager Terrance D. Weldon. Weldon had pleaded guilty earlier to charges he extorted payments from developers in nearby Ocean Township, where he served as mayor.
Konvitz also is charged with providing Condos with regular financial support in exchange for his votes on the City Council. Konvitz allegedly paid another council member, who is cooperating with investigators, thousands of dollars for his support on redevelopment and other matters.
On the Net:
U.S. Attorney: http://www.njusao.org/break.html