Former Jersey City Council Candidate Admits Misuse of Contributions
NEWARK—Former Jersey City Council candidate Lavern Webb-Washington today admitted illegally using contributions to her political campaign for her personal use, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Webb-Washington, 65, of Jersey City, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares to a superseding information charging her with converting to her own use and the use of another up to $1,000 in money of the United States to which she was not entitled.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
As a 2009 candidate for city council in Jersey City, Webb-Washington had a duty truthfully to account to her campaign for contributions received and to not use campaign contributions for any improper purpose, such as for personal use. On March 30, 2009, April 23, 2009, and May 7, 2009, in Bayonne and North Bergen, New Jersey, Webb-Washington accepted cash contributions from Solomon Dwek, a witness cooperating with federal law enforcement agents. Webb-Washington accepted those contributions with the intent to convert a portion of the money to her own use without authority and contrary to New Jersey state laws governing the proper use of campaign contributions. She failed to report these cash contributions to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) as required and used up to $1,000 of that money to pay her own personal expenses. The funds that Webb-Washington admitted converting were federal funds given to Dwek by the FBI as part of the investigation.
The misdemeanor charge to which Webb-Washington pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. Webb-Washington had been facing a mail fraud charge, which according to the plea agreement, will be dismissed at the time of her sentencing. Sentencing is scheduled for August 5, 2014.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford, with the investigation leading up to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark J. McCarren of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.