Former Lakewood Township Housing Inspector and Property Manager Sentenced to Prison for Extortion Offenses
|U.S. Attorney’s Office June 17, 2010|
TRENTON, NJ—Jeffrey Williamson, an ex-Lakewood Township, New Jersey, housing inspector, was sentenced today to 37 months in prison, and Charles Amon, a former property manager in Lakewood, was sentenced today to a year and a day in prison, for their respective roles in a scheme in which Williamson accepted bribes from a government cooperating witness to assist the witness with Lakewood housing matters, United States Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
The sentences were imposed by United States U.S. District Chief Judge Garrett E. Brown Jr. in Trenton federal court.
Williamson, 58, previously pleaded guilty before Judge Brown to attempted extortion under color of official right and two counts of subscribing to a false tax return. Amon, 34, previously pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Peter G. Sheridan to conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
At his plea hearing, Williamson stated that from as early as April 2007 through July 2009, he served as a housing inspector for Lakewood Township in Ocean County. In that capacity, Williamson was responsible for, among other things, performing inspections and certifying housing units for compliance with pertinent federal, state, and local standards, codes, regulations and procedures.
Williamson admitted that from April 24, 2007 to July 10, 2009, he accepted a total of $17,500 in bribes to provide lenient inspections on rental and other properties owned by the cooperating witness in Lakewood. Williamson also allowed the witness to illegally use a residence in Lakewood as a commercial office.
Additionally, Williamson admitted that when he signed and filed his Individual Income Tax Return for tax years 2007 and 2008, he knew that they were not true and correct. Williamson’s returns did not include approximately $7,500 in taxable income that he received from the cooperating witness in 2007, and approximately $8,000 in taxable income that he received from the witness in 2008.
At his plea hearing, Amon admitted that from April to May of 2007, he arranged meetings between Williamson and the cooperating witness, with the understanding that Williamson would accept corrupt cash payments from the witness and Williamson would then perform favorable inspections on Lakewood properties the witness owned. Amon also admitted that he had previously made corrupt cash payments to Williamson to perform lenient housing inspections on Amon’s behalf.
In addition to the prison terms, Judge Brown ordered Williamson and Amon each to serve three years of supervised release. Judge Brown continued Williamson’s release on a $50,000 secured bond, and Amon’s release on a $25,000 secured bond pending their surrender to officials with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
Today’s sentences stem 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, 2009.
In determining the actual sentences, Judge Brown consulted the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which recommend sentencing ranges that take into account the severity and characteristics of the offenses, the defendants’ criminal history, if any, and other factors. The Judge, however, had discretion and was not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence. Parole has been abolished in the federal system. Defendants who are given custodial terms must serve nearly all that time.
Fishman credited Special Agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward, and the IRS Criminal Investigation Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge William P. Offord, for the investigation leading to today’s sentences. Fishman also thanked the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Luis A. Valentin, for its assistance in the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dustin Chao of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.
Jeffrey Williamson: Christopher L. Patella , Esq., Bayonne, N.J.
Charles Amon: Paul B. Brickfield, Esq., River Edge, N.J.