Federal authorities lodged additional charges against a former Essex County assemblyman already facing a 28-count indictment that includes multiple fraud and corruption charges.
The new indictment against Willis Edwards charges the former Orange business administrator with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and accepting kickbacks in connection with the business of a federally-funded local government on top of the previous charges lodged against him.
Together, the new counts carry a maximum penalty of up to 50 years in prison and fines of up to up to $750,000.
The attorney general’s office alleged Willis solicited and received two $10,000 payments from Jeanmarie Zahore, the owner of JZ Nettech, in exchange for a $350,000 public contract to a new networking system in Orange’s municipal court and police department.
Orange’s city council approved the $350,000 award on Sept. 15, 2015. Edwards spoke in favor of the award before the council.
Then, in November 2015, Edwards began demanding money for his troubles, authorities said.
He received two $10,000 payments from Zahore and JZ Nettech on Nov. 20 and Nov. 23, 2015.
The new indictment also charges Edwards did not report the kickbacks on his 2015 tax return.