TRENTON - An Atlantic City councilman charged in a sex-video blackmail case has been admitted into a pretrial intervention program, allowing him to avoid jail time and to have the charges against him dismissed.
Councilman John Schultz was scheduled to go on trial Sept. 29, but yesterday an Atlantic County judge allowed him to enter the program over the objections of the Attorney General's Office.
If he meets all conditions set by the court, he will keep a clean criminal record.
"There's no finding of guilt, no admission of guilt. He'll have an absolutely unblemished record," said Schultz's attorney Edwin Jacobs. "Once you complete the participation period, it's as if it never happened."
Schultz was accused in a scheme orchestrated by former City Council President Craig Callaway to blackmail Councilman Eugene Robinson, who was lured to a motel room and secretly taped having sex with a prostitute.
Also charged were Callaway's brothers - Ronald Callaway and former city Public Works Director David Callaway - and Floyd Tally.
Craig Callaway pleaded guilty and is serving a three-year sentence as he serves a federal prison term in an unrelated bribery case. The others maintain their innocence.
Callaway orchestrated the scheme against Robinson, whom he viewed as a rival, while Callaway was awaiting sentencing in the bribery case. He admitted that he and others hired a prostitute to lure Robinson to a motel in Absecon and that they had set up a clock radio with a hidden video camera connected to a recorder in the next room.
Schultz was accused of putting Callaway in touch with a video expert.
Prosecutors say they taped Robinson having sex with the woman, then sent the tape to media outlets in an attempt to force Robinson to resign. Instead, he contacted authorities and complained that he was being blackmailed.
Robinson, a Baptist minister, said the sex was consensual and the money he gave the woman was to buy sodas.
State prosecutors strongly objected to letting Schultz into the pretrial program, saying it would diminish "the seriousness of his crime."
"Mr. Schultz's conduct constituted a clear breach of the public trust and, for that reason alone, his application [for PTI] should be denied," First Assistant Attorney General Ricardo Solano Jr. wrote in a letter to Atlantic County Prosecutor Theodore Housel.
Housel supported letting Schultz into the program over the objections of a pretrial coordinator, saying Schultz had agreed to testify at trial if called. Ultimately, the court made the decision to admit Schultz, who has no history of violent offenses.
Jacobs said Schultz would likely participate in the program for several months. He said it would have no bearing on his council position.