Former Lakewood Property Manager Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Extortion
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 14, 2009|
TRENTON—Charles Amon, a former property manager in Lakewood, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to commit extortion, admitting he agreed to arrange meetings between Jeffrey Williamson, then a Lakewood Township housing inspector, and a cooperating witness, where at such meetings Williamson accepted a total of $1,500 in corrupt cash payments from the cooperating witness in return for Williamson exercising his future official authority in favor of the cooperating witness, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Amon, 33, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan to a one-count criminal Information charging him with conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right. Judge Sheridan continued Amon’s release on a $25,000 bond pending sentencing, which is scheduled for Feb. 18.
At his plea hearing, Amon, admitted that in April through May of 2007, he arranged meetings between Williamson and the cooperating witness, with the understanding that Williamson would accept corrupt cash payments from the cooperating witness with the understanding that Williamson would then perform favorable inspections on Lakewood properties owned by the cooperating witness. Amon also admitted that he had previously made corrupt cash payments to Williamson to perform lenient housing inspections on Amon’s behalf. Charges against Williamson are pending.
Amon’s guilty plea stems from a two-track undercover FBI investigation into political corruption and international money laundering which resulted in charges against 44 individuals via criminal Complaints on July 23.
Fishman said the political corruption and money laundering investigations are continuing.
The charge to which Amon pleaded guilty carries a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
In determining an actual sentence, the judge will consult the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which recommend sentencing ranges that take into account the severity and characteristics of the offenses, the defendant’s criminal history, if any, and other factors, including acceptance of responsibility. The judge, however, has discretion and is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.
The prosecution and defense have agreed that, under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, Amon faces a possible sentence of between 10 and 18 months in prison. Parole has been abolished in the federal system. Defendants who are given custodial terms must serve nearly all of that time.
Fishman credited Special Agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Weysan Dun, for the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. The case against Amon is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dustin Chao of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.
Defense Counsel: Paul B. Brickfield, Esq., River Edge