Skip to main content

Ex-mayor convicted in land-for-love case

  • Story Highlights
  • Prosecutors: Mayor Sharpe James allowed below-value property sale to girlfriend
  • James found guilty of conspiracy to "defraud the public of James' honest service"
  • In separate case, he's accused of using city money for nearly $60,000 in vacations
  • James says Dominican Republic trip was to assess gardens for Penn Station use
  • Next Article in Crime »
By Mythili Rao
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

(CNN) -- Former Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Sharpe James and co-defendant Tamika Riley were found guilty Wednesday of charges related to property fraud, the U.S. Attorney's Office in the District of New Jersey said.


Former Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Sharpe James spent five weeks on trial in a property fraud case.

Prosecutors said James, 72, hijacked a program designed to encourage urban renewal by offering developers land at low costs, and approved the sale of city-owned properties to Riley, 39, then his girlfriend, at a fraction of their actual value from 2001 to 2005.

With James "steering" land to her, Riley bought multiple discounted properties and resold them at market rate without attempting to first rehabilitate them, as required by the program, prosecutors said. Riley collected about $500,000 in profits from the transactions, they said.

James and Riley were found guilty of fraud charges, including conspiracy to "defraud the public of James' honest service." Riley alone was additionally found guilty of tax fraud and evasion. They will probably face four- to five-year sentences, district attorney spokesman Mike Drewniak said.

Don't Miss

In a separate case, James is accused of charging nearly $60,000 on city-issued credit cards between 2001 and 2006 for vacations for himself and several women other than his wife in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and the Dominican Republic.

James claims that his visit to Rio de Janeiro in 2006 was to meet with the region's consulate general on city business and that a trip to the Dominican Republic was to "assess the tropical gardens on a resort property there to determine if those gardens could be replicated near Penn Station in Newark," according to the indictment. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Joann Rizzo contributed to this report.

All About New Jersey

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print