Cop Claims Newark's Ex-Mayor Defamed Him
NEWARK, N.J. (CN) - A law-enforcement official claims in court that former Newark Mayor Sharpe James defamed him in his memoir, accusing him of committing perjury, trying "to destroy" his bosses and spying on prosecutors.
Prentiss Thompson sued James and Nutany Publishing in Essex County Court. The book in question, "Political Prisoner," was released last year.
James, who was mayor of New Jersey's biggest city from 1986 to 2006, was indicted in 2007 by then-Attorney General Chris Christie on charges of conspiring to rig the sale of nine city lots to his mistress, who quickly resold them for hundreds of thousands of dollars in profit.
James was convicted of five counts of fraud by a federal jury in 2008 and served two years in prison.
Thompson claims in his 5-page lawsuit that he was a witness during James's trial and that James' book falsely accused him or his family with "criminal conduct."
Quoting from the book, Thompson says that James wrote that Thompson "'placed [his] left hand on the Bible, raised [his] right hand, swore to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me God, and then obnoxiously proceeded not to tell the truth under oath.'" (Brackets in complaint.)
Thompson claims that James wrote "that plaintiff along with other witnesses 'cut a deal with the prosecution to save [himself] or family members' by which words James intended to charge ... that plaintiff or a family member had committed some criminal act which prosecutors agreed not to prosecute in exchange for plaintiff's testimony in James's criminal trial."
Thompson claims the defamation didn't end there, as James also wrote that he, Thompson, "tried to destroy" his former supervisors, including Essex County Prosecutor Patricia Hurt, former Essex County Prosecutor Paula Dow and Newark School Superintendent Eugene Campbell.
James also wrote that Thompson "'bragged to [James] about once climbing a tree and video-taping former Essex County Prosecutor Patricia Hurt' because '[h]e was angry at her because she would not promote him. He wanted to get her fired or to resign her position,'" according to the complaint.
Thompson claims that James's defamation extended beyond his professional work. He claims James wrote that he, Thompson, "is also very stingy" and that "whenever we had meals together at the marina, just before the check would arrive, he would get up and go to the bathroom; leave and then board his vessel, never to return to share the cost of the meal. He has mastered this routine."
Thompson claims that these "false statements were written and given to Nutany for publication by defendant Sharpe James with knowledge that they were false and with malice, hatred and ill will toward plaintiff and the desire and object to damage plaintiff and his reputation."
Calls to Nutany Publishing were not answered.
James could not be reached for comment.
Thompson seeks punitive damages for defamation.
He is represented by Mark Lawrence with Forman, Cardonsky and Lawrence of Elizabeth, N.J.