Graft alert: New Brunswick official gets 87 months

A former New Brunswick housing director was sentenced to 87 months in federal prison and ordered to pay over $100,000 last week after pleading guilty to extortion and tax evasion in federal court earlier this year, acting U.S. Attorney Ralph J. Marra Jr. said.

William Walker, 36, of Pennsauken accepted bribes and free home renovations from contractors in the New Brunswick area in return for housing rehabilitation contracts in the city, investigators said.

Mr. Walker will have to pay back $112,500 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which primarily funds much of the work and the contracts that he oversaw while employed in New Brunswick.

After being charged, Mr. Walker eventually pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from two contractors and failing to report $112,500 in corrupt payments on his tax returns from 2004 to 2006.  The actual charges he pleaded guilty to consist of extortion under color of official right and one count of tax evasion.

Mr. Walker was the director of the Neighborhood Preservation Project for the city’s Department of Community Planning and Economic Development, a position in which he was responsible for approving funding and contracts for the rehabilitation of low-income and moderate-income residences in New Brunswick.

The former city employee took corrupt payments from Friendly Maintenance of Middlesex County and Taj Maintenance of Perth Amboy, which received over $1.3 million and $900,000 in city contracts, respectively.

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