NEWARK, N.J. - A former Jersey City official who held several public offices pleaded guilty to corruption yesterday, bringing the number of guilty pleas in the state's largest federal sting to five.
Appearing before U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares, James P. "Jimmy" King pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit extortion. He was charged with accepting $10,000 from a federal cooperating witness who posed as a developer seeking help with building permits.
Flanked by attorney Arthur Abrams, the 67-year-old King declined to comment after the hearing. Abrams said his client "is very sorry for what's occurred."
Extortion conspiracy carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, but King is expected to received a term of 10 to 16 months when he is sentenced on Jan. 5.
King served at various times as the executive director of the Jersey City Parking Authority, chairman of the Jersey City Incinerator Authority, and as Hudson County undersheriff. He also headed the Jimmy King Civic Association, which was known for serving turkey dinners to needy families on Thanksgiving.
Prosecutors allege it was King's candidacy for a seat on Jersey City's municipal council that precipitated his meeting with Solomon Dwek, a developer arrested for bank fraud in 2006 who agreed to become a government plant in a federal probe of money laundering and public corruption.
According to a federal complaint, King was introduced to Dwek through longtime Hudson County political consultant Jack Shaw in March and agreed to accept two $5,000 payments in exchange for his help getting a zoning change passed for Dwek's purported condominium development in Jersey City.
Shaw took both payments and passed them to King, the complaint alleges, the first one in the parking lot of a Bayonne diner on March 30 and the second outside a Jersey City restaurant on April 23.
King lost the council election in May and was arrested on July 23 along with 43 others, the majority of them New Jersey elected or appointed officials. The rest were connected to an alleged money laundering scheme centered in the Orthodox Jewish communities of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Deal, N.J.
The previous four defendants who pleaded guilty all had ties to Jersey City; one of them was former city board of education official Edward Cheatam, who allegedly attended both meetings where money was passed from Dwek to King through Shaw.
Shaw faced extortion charges but was found dead in his Jersey City apartment on July 28.