A former Essex County (NJ) prosecutor and municipal judge has been barred from practicing law by the State Supreme Court. Clifford Minor, 68, who in 2011 was sentenced to 24 months imprisonment in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey for a bizarre plot to help a career felon avoid a lengthy prison term, was "disbarred by consent," effective March 20, 2014.
Minor's fall from grace comes after a long career in public service. He was an Essex County prosecutor in the 1990s, and also served as Newark's chief municipal judge for several years. He began his career as a Newark street cop. Minor returned to a private law practice in 2010, after losing a mayoral campaign against Cory Booker.
Minor's conviction on federal bribery and perjury charges came as to his role in a 2007 plot to have one man, Jahil Muhammad, falsely confess to possessing a handgun in place of Abdul Williams, a childhood friend, who would face a lengthy sentence for the gun due to his long criminal record. Minor was paid $3,500.00 to accompany Muhammad to the Newark Police Department to confess, leaving two men accused of the same crime.
The case came to light while federal investigators were making a case against another high-profile Newark defense attorney, Paul W. Bergrin, who was later convicted of arranging the murder of a federal informant who was going to testify against his client. Jailhouse recordings of Muhammad and Williams' conversations uncovered the plot involving Minor. Williams had promised Muhammad $10,000, but only paid him $1,500. Minor initially lied to federal agents when confronted with the scheme, but later rolled over and pleaded guilty.
When Minor was sentenced in 2011, he told the court, "I know what I did was wrong. I will spend the balance of my life trying to recoup what I have lost."
Assistant United States Attorney Anthony Mahajan said Minor made a "shame and mockery" of the law he swore to uphold. "He didn't lose anything," said Mahajan. "He sold it for $3,500."
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