The Newark Watershed Authority is being investigated by federal prosecutors for actions it took while chaired by Cory Booker, the city’s former mayor, according to sources.
A local watchdog group and the New Jersey Comptroller’s Office uncovered the alleged misappropriation of taxpayer funds, at the center of the inquiry.
Now a US senator, while Booker was the agency’s ex-officio chairman between 2007 and 2012, his former law firm, Trenk, DiPasquale, Webster, collected $1 million in legal fees. Booker’s 2006 campaign treasurer, Elnardo Webster, served as the authority’s general counsel.
According to the NY Post in a previous report, the law firm paid Booker $700,000 — even after he became mayor. Booker claims the payments were part of a “separation agreement” for work done before he was elected.
Booker’s campaign spokeswoman shot down reports that he had anything to do with the business the firm conducted with the Watershed, “nor did he have a hand in their getting a contract there,” she said.
Renee Steinhagen, executive director of NJ Appleseed, a citizens’ group public-interest law firm said the federal probe came to light from the authority in a separate court proceeding as it looked for compensation from the city for expenses.
The US Attorney’s Office declined to comment.