Newark West Ward Councilman Joseph A. McCallum, Jr. admitted to accepting bribes and kickbacks from developers, contracting companies and other businesses in exchange for access and aid obtaining public contracts as part of a scheme to defraud Newark and the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation, now known as Invest Newark!
McCallum, who is not seeking re-election to the council this year, pled guilty to one count of Honest Services wire fraud and for filing a false personal income tax return in 2018.
Appearing before U.S. District Court Judge William Martini, McCallum acknowledged receiving a $16,000 bribe from a contracting company, a $25,000 bribe and kickback from a developer’s company, and $500 cash to cover his cost of an international trip as part of a bid to obtain a $50,000 payment from a second developer.
Martini is scheduled for sentencing on McCallum on July 21.
The plea comes five months after Malik Frederick 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 pursuing. The councilman was allegedly paid through concealed bribes and kickbacks drawn from fees paid to Frederick’s firm.
McCallum was accused of receiving or seeking bribes worth $16,000, $25,000 and $50,000 from a contracting company and two developers’ companies between 2017 and February 2020.
Developers were solicited for “access” and introduced to the West Ward councilman, who then took “concealed bribes and kickbacks,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
He also allegedly sought to obtain payments from a West Ward property seller and a developer who wanted to purchase land.
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.