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Union County man pleads guilty to making corrupt payments

Jeanmarie Zahore fingers former Orange acting business administrator in alleged public contract scheme

By Nikita Biryukov, October 14 2020 5:04 pm

A Union County man admitted to making corrupt payments to a former Essex County assemblyman in exchange for a $350,000 public contract, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced Wednesday.

Jeanmarie Zahore, 56, pleaded guilty to paying former acting Orange business administrator Willis Edwards $20,000 over two payments in exchange for a public no-bid emergency contract to install a networking system in the city’s municipal complex.

Zahore’s firm, JZ Nettech, was awarded the $350,000 contract in September 2015 with assistance from Edwards.

Authorities say Edwards, whom Zahore identified as the official he made the corrupt payments to, solicited payments from the Rahway resident.

After Zahore received a $115,000 check from Orange on Sept. 18, 2015, the two went out to celebrate, authorities said.

Edwards faces a 31-count indictment for his alleged role in the scheme and other instances of alleged corruption.

The charge to which Zahore pled guilty carries a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 or twice the monetary gain from the misdeeds.

The investigation was aided by the FBI, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of the Inspector General and the IRS Criminal Investigations division.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Cari Fais and J Fortier Imbert are prosecuting the case.

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