Sharpe James

*One of New Jersey’s longest serving former mayors got a hero’s welcome Tuesday, stepping off a Greyhound bus in Newark and blowing kisses to a throng of cheering supporters before being driven to a halfway house where he’ll serve out the remainder of a federal prison sentence on corruption charges.

“It’s good to be home,” former Newark Mayor Sharpe James said through the lowered window of an SUV that barely inched forward through a sea of 300 or so supporters who chanted, cheered and held signs reading “no crime committed” and “Sharpe for governor.”
The 74-year-old had left a federal prison camp in Virginia earlier Tuesday where he had been serving a sentence since Sept. 2008.

James was convicted in April 2008 stemming from charges that he abused his office by steering city-owned land to his one-time mistress. He was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison and ordered to pay a $100,000 fine. His former mistress, Tamika Riley, was sentenced to 15 months and ordered to repay $27,000 in a housing subsidy.

The longtime mayor, also a state senator, was one of the most powerful figures snared in a series of corruption cases in New Jersey brought by then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, who is now New Jersey’s governor.

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