Jeanmarie Zahore, 56, pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court via videoconference to making corrupt payments to an agent of a local government receiving federal funds.
He faces up to 10 years in federal prison.
Zahore is the latest defendant to be convicted of crimes related to Willis Edwards III, who was previously the city of Orange’s deputy business administrator and has been indicted for a long list of crimes related to alleged corruption. Two others have been convicted of crimes related to Edwards allegedly defrauding a literacy program at the city’s library.
According to the indictment, Zahore gave Edwards numerous cash payments in exchange for Edwards using his influence to reward Zahore’s computer consulting business, JZ Nettech, with a lucrative city contract in 2015 to install a computer networking system at the municipal complex that houses the Orange Municipal Court and the Orange Police Department.
The indictment originally did not name Edwards, but federal authorities charged Edwards with more crimes in a superseding indictment last month and named him as the city employee who allegedly helped Zahore obtain the city contract.
Authorities said after Edwards and Zahore began communicating the alleged scheme, authorities said Edwards met with city officials, informing them that there was an urgent need to address a potential security vulnerability in the their computer network and that JZ Nettec had been selected as the vendor.
Zahore and his company were eventually awarded the contract after Edwards spoke in favor of it during a September 2015 city council meeting.
After the contract was approved, Zahore received and deposited three checks over the next two months from the city totaling $350,000 into a bank account for him and his company, according to the indictment.
He then paid Edwards $10,000 in cash on two occasions, according to the indictment.
The bribery scheme was just one way federal authorities said Edwards used his position as deputy business administrator to allegedly enrich himself. Edwards has been indicted on more than 30 charges, including conspiracy to defraud Orange, theft from a federally funded local government, wire fraud, bribery, conspiracy to commit mail fraud and tax fraud.
His attorney has denied the allegations.
Federal authorities have charged Edwards with allegedly defrauding the city library’s literacy program and taking in money through a kickback scheme. The former executive director of the library, Timur Davis, pleaded guilty earlier this year to making false statements to a federal agency in connection to the literacy program.
And Franklyn Ore, Edwards’ former business partner, previously pleaded guilty to fraud, misapplying funds and conspiracy related to the literacy program.
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Joe Atmonavage may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.