White-Collar Crime

Former NJ Prosecutor and Judge Charged with Aiding Bribed False Confession

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A former Essex County prosecutor and presiding Newark municipal judge who is now a well-known New Jersey defense attorney has been indicted for allegedly accepting $3,500 from a convicted felon in exchange for his help in bribing another man to make a false confession to authorities.

The bribery and obstruction-of-justice case against Clifford Minor, 67, apparently may have resulted from jailhouse telephone conversations with the convicted felon, Abdul Williams. Williams allegedly called Minor while in custody and arranged for the lawyer to accompany Jamal Muhammad to the Newark police department to confess, according to the New Jersey Law Journal.

Minor has pleaded not guilty.

Subpoenaed by a grand jury to explain his relationship with Muhammad, the lawyer then allegedly provided a fake $500 retainer agreement concerning his representation of Muhammad and falsely said he knew of no monetary payment to Muhammad.

“Clifford Minor allegedly sold his oath as a lawyer for $3,500 to help a violent, convicted felon avoid criminal charges. And then, making his deception even worse, he allegedly chose to lie about his role to prosecutors and agents of the FBI,” stated U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman at a news conference called to announce the indictment.

The indictment links Minor, who apparently had no prior connection with Williams and Muhammed, to Paul Bergrin, a former lawyer for Williams, according to the Newark Star-Ledger.

Bergrin, a former county and federal prosecutor, is presently jailed after being charged in a witness intimidation scheme that allegedly included the murder of at least one witness. During an interview with the feds, “authorities say Minor lied by saying he did not know Muhammad was bribed and that he never discussed the plot with Williams or Bergrin,” the Star-Ledger reported.

Bergrin is not, however, charged in the indictment against Minor and is identified in the indictment by his initials as a former lawyer for Williams, the newspaper reports.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Judge Nixes RICO Charges, But Defense Lawyer Still Faces 36 Counts, Including Murder”

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