Former Newark Deputy Mayor Ronald Salahuddin was sentenced today to one year and a day in federal prison after he was convicted of conspiracy to commit extortion while serving under Newark Mayor Cory Booker.
Salahuddien and his co-defendant, Sonnie Cooper, were convicted for conspiracy in late 2011. They were acquitted of all other charges from their 2011 corruption trial that included charges of bribery and attempted conspiracy.
According to the Star-Ledger, the verdict puzzled all parties involved:
"It defies all logic," Thomas Ashley, Salahuddin’s lawyer, said at the time, questioning how his client could be innocent of attempted conspiracy but convicted of conspiracy. He said then that he and Cooper’s lawyer, Alan Zegas, will seek a new trial, but that never happened.
The September 2011 trial focused on tapes made available through a wired contractor-turned-informant, Nicholas Mazzocchi, who caught Salahuddin promising city contracts to Mazzocchi if the contractor subcontracted work to Cooper, a business partner of Salahuddien's.
Salahuddin was also caught on tape lobbying Mazzocchi for contributions to Newark Now and Empower Nework, two groups with close ties to Booker.
Booker called his deputy’s actions "repugnant" and "unconscionable" when he testified against Salahuddin in 2011.
When Booker was asked how other contractors earned city deals months after their donations to Newark Now, the moonlighting dog catcher said he was not aware. Booker has recently received criticism for his absence from Newark as the city continues to struggle with its spending and crime rate.