Former Essex County Prosecutor Clifford Minor disbarred by NJ Supreme Court

By James Queally/The Star-Ledger
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on March 31, 2014

Former Essex County Prosecutor Clifford Minor, seen here in a 2010 file photo during his Newark mayoral bid, has been disbarred by the state Supreme Court. He pleaded guilty to bribery and perjury charges in 2011.


NEWARK — Clifford Minor, a former Essex County prosecutor and one-time Newark mayoral candidate who was sent to jail in 2011 after pleading guilty to a strange jailhouse plot, has been barred from practicing law by the state Supreme Court, officials said today.

Minor was "disbarred by consent" after an investigation into his role in a bizarre 2011 plot that saw Minor arrange for an innocent man to plead guilty to gun charges in exchange for cash, court records show. The disbarment was effective March 27, according to Tammy Kendig, a spokeswoman for the state Judiciary.

The 68-year-old Minor — a former policeman, municipal judge and defense attorney — pleaded guilty to bribery and perjury related charges in 2011 after he told federal prosecutors he accepted $3,500 to elicit a false confession from 32-year-old Jahil Muhammad.

Muhammad was supposed to plead guilty to gun charges in place of 33-year-old East Orange resident Abdul Williams, who had a lengthy criminal record and would have faced a stiff prison sentence if convicted. The plot was uncovered by the FBI during an investigation into high-profile defense attorney Paul Bergrin, who was charged with, and later convicted of arranging the murder of a federal informant.

Minor was sentenced to 24 months in prison in 2011 and released in August of 2013, according to federal records.

Minor had a lengthy career in public service. He was Essex County's prosecutor in the mid-1990s and also served as Newark's chief municipal judge for a number of years. He returned to private practice after an unsuccessful run to unseat Cory Booker as mayor of the state's largest city in 2010.

The Essex County Prosecutor's office declined to comment. Calls seeking comment from Minor's attorney, Thomas Ashley, were not immediately returned.

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