Man arrested in robbery of ex-Newark Mayor Sharpe James

Sharpe James

April 12, 2013 2:23:55 PM PDT
Police in Newark have arrested the man suspected of robbing former Mayor Sharpe James, who was choked and mugged Thursday afternoon.

He's gone from mayor, to felon, to crime victim.

"Someone grabbed me, and I thought someone was grabbing me like horseplay, and I started moving, and I turned around, and a young man that I didn't know actually grabbed the cross that I had on my chain, and yanked it and ran up the street," said Sharpe James, former Newark mayor.

Thursday afternoon around 4 p.m., former mayor Sharpe James was waiting in his car on Bergen Street in Newark.

That's when someone came up behind him, put the 78 year old in a choke hold, and snatched his gold chain.

"I would have given him the chain, I wanted the cross, that was more important to me than the chain," James said.

The cross was very important to him. It's a replacement for the one that was confiscated when he went to prison.

The five-term mayor was convicted of corruption in 2008 and served two years.

"It became sentimental to me, the cross especially. I had gone through hard times in my life and I now wore the cross," James said.

20-year-old Alhafeez Williams has been arrested and charged with robbery.

Police say, several hours after the incident Williams turned himself in.

The irony is that investigators told James that during a search of the suspect's grandfather's home, they saw a picture of him shaking hands with Williams' grandfather.

Apparently his grandfather was a big supporter when James was mayor.

Williams is being held on a $50,000 bond, with no 10% option.

Sharpe James was Newark's 35th mayor, and also served as a state senator.

James was not injured in the attack.