US

Newark Agency Chief Got Nearly $1M In Bribes On Booker’s Watch

U.S. Sen. [crscore]Cory Booker[/crscore] should have done more as the city’s mayor to prevent the former head of Newark, New Jersey’s watershed agency from accepting nearly $1 million in bribes, according to a civil lawsuit filed in federal court.

Booker, a Democrat elected New Jersey’s junior U.S. senator in 2012, served as Newark mayor and a trustee overseeing the nonprofit Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corporation while director Linda Watkins-Brashear solicited bribes from businesses in exchange for high-priced and no-work contracts.

Booker is one of 18 defendants named in a lawsuit filed by the now-defunct agency, alleging government officials didn’t exercise enough oversight to stop the bribes within the nonprofit tap water agency.

Watkins-Brashear recently pleaded guilty to taking the bribes, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Booker served as Newark’s mayor from 2006 to 2013, during which Watkins-Brashear ran the agency, which was responsible for providing water to half a million Garden State customers. The watershed agency filed for bankruptcy in 2014 amid a federal investigation and allegations of corruption from the state comptroller’s office.

Booker’s Senate spokesman did not respond to a request from The Daily Caller News Foundation for comment, but court documents show Booker’s lawyer has asked the court to disassociate the senator from the complaint.

“In that role, Defendant (Booker) received no compensation for serving as a trustee and, thus, under New Jersey law cannot be held personally liable under the theories advanced by the complaint,” one of the documents reads. “Moreover, at all times, defendant acted in good faith.”

Booker’s attorneys also pointed out “the lawyers hired … to counsel the board failed to inform the board of any wrongdoing by staff, or to counsel the board on whether they were operating according to the Articles of Incorporation.”

“I can’t comment beyond what’s in the public record because we’re in the midst of litigation, so I have to confine myself to the record,” Edwin Stier, the court-appointed trustee for the Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corporation, told TheDCNF .

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