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Newark West Ward Councilman Joseph McCallum.

Newark Councilman Joseph McCallum charged with wire fraud

Alleged co-conspirator pleads guilty, federal authorities say

By Nikita Biryukov, October 20 2020 4:35 pm

Federal authorities charged Newark West Ward Councilman Joseph McCallum for allegedly accepting bribes and kickbacks from developers, contracting companies and other businesses in exchange for access and aid obtaining public contracts.

McCallum faces charges of wire fraud to defraud Newark and the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito on Tuesday announced Malik Frederick, a 60-year-old Newark resident, pleaded guilty to counts of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and subscribing to a false personal federal tax return for his role in the alleged scheme.

Frederick pushed developers to hire his consulting firm to gain access to McCallum, who was allegedly introduced as the councilman tasked with whatever project the firms were pursing. The councilman was allegedly paid through concealed bribes and kickbacks drawn from fees paid to Frederick’s firm.

McCallum is accused of receiving or seeking bribes worth $16,000, $25,000 and $50,000 from a contracting company and two developers’ companies.

He also allegedly sought to obtain payments from a West Ward property seller and a developer who wanted to purchase the parcel.

Frederick also pushed a modular home company that was negotiating with the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation (NCEDC) — McCallum sits on the organization’s board of directors — to retain and pay his firm $40,000.

Authorities said he intended to share the $40,000 with an unnamed official at the Economic Development Corporation. The modular home company did not receive a contract from the NCEDC after refusing to retain Frederick’s firm.

The charge against McCallum carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a fine $250,000.

The wire fraud charge to which Frederick pleaded guilty carries the same penalty. The false tax return charge carries a maximum prison sentence of three years and the same fine.

Frederick is set to be sentence on March 2, 2021.

McCallum’s court date has not yet been set.

The investigation was headed by federal agents of the FBI’s Newark field office, the IRS-Criminal Investigation Unit and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of the Inspector General.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jihee Suh, Jeffrey Manis and Elaine Lou are representing the government.

Tim Donohue, of Arlea & Donohue LLC., is representing McCallum. Elizabeth attorney Hassen Abdellah represented Frederick.

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