Ex-Newark mayor to seek delay on trial

April 22, 2008 12:31:07 PM PDT
A federal judge on Tuesday said former Newark Mayor Sharpe James, convicted on corruption charges last week, will face a second trial July 8 on charges he used city-issued credit cards to pay for $58,000 worth of personal expenses while he was mayor.James defense lawyer Thomas Ashley said he would seek to have the trial delayed and moved to a different courthouse. The lawyer said he had another trial already scheduled and that James could not get a fair jury here because of publicity from the recent trial.

"I think it's quite clear that the general public has a very, very negative opinion of Sharpe James," Ashley said.

U.S. District Judge William J. Martini said he would consider the defense requests after the formal motions are filed.

Federal prosecutors did not object to the July 8 trial date.

James, 72, faces sentencing July 29 by Martini from last week's conviction on charges he steered cut-rate city property to a one-time mistress.

James, mayor of the state's largest city from 1986 to 2006, was convicted on all five charges he faced, including fraud and conspiracy.

The former girlfriend, Tamika Riley, 39, was convicted on those charges and the eight others she faced, including evading taxes and cheating to obtain subsidized housing assistance for herself.

James faces a probable term of about seven to eight years in prison, but a judge could impose a much stiffer penalty - as much as 20 years on some individual counts. Riley faces similar exposure. James could also be stripped of pensions that provide a six-figure annual income.

Both plan to appeal the convictions.

The 20 counts against James related to the credit cards had been in the same indictment as the charges in the first trial, but Martini split them into two trials.

Prosecutors charge that some of the improper card use came during trips James took with Riley and other women besides his wife to Martha's Vineyard, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Rio de Janeiro.

James faces 17 counts of mail and wire fraud, which each carry up to 20 years in prison, and three fraud counts, each of which carries up to 10 years in prison.