MAYS LANDING, N.J. - Already having pleaded guilty in a bribery case, former Atlantic City Council President Craig Callaway had one piece of unfinished business before heading off to prison in 2006: taking down a council rival.
So he helped set up Councilman Eugene Robinson in a motel room with a prostitute. A videotape of the encounter was used to try to force Robinson to resign.
Instead, Robinson went to authorities.
As a result, Callaway stood before another judge yesterday, getting another prison sentence - three years for conspiracy to commit invasion of privacy. The sentence is concurrent with Callaway's 40-month federal term for the unrelated bribery.
"Mr. Callaway has devoted his life to public service," his lawyer, Joseph Grassi, told Superior Court Judge Albert Garofalo. "Even the arrests he's had were arrests that were involved in his fighting to have a voice in this community. It's a tragedy that things went awry for him."
The judge noted that Callaway, 49, had been arrested 25 times, mostly on disorderly-persons offenses.
In pleading guilty last month, Callaway admitted that he rented two rooms at the Bayview Motel in Absecon and helped other defendants videotape Robinson with a prostitute who had lured him to the motel.
An FBI agent testified in preliminary hearings in June that another defendant had hidden a camera in a clock radio in one of the rooms. The camera sent a video stream to a recorder in the adjacent room.
"It was the kind of camera you could find at a spy shop," Grassi said.
The agent said Callaway had edited the video on his home computer, then yanked out the hard drive and threw it into the ocean, but Callaway did not acknowledge doing so in court.
Robinson, a Baptist minister, has said that the sex was consensual and that he gave the woman money only to buy sodas. He did not appear in court yesterday and said through a prosecutor that he had no comment on Callaway's sentencing.
Robinson has sued Callaway and other defendants over the videotaping. Yesterday, the judge rejected Callaway's bid to block his guilty plea from being used as evidence in the civil trial.
Also charged in the case are Callaway's brothers David and Ronald; a friend, Floyd Tally; and Atlantic City Councilman John Schultz. All have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled for a Jan. 13 hearing. Callaway will not have to testify against them.
The FBI agent testified that Schultz arranged for a computer expert to help edit the video and blur the woman's face.