NJ corrections official accused of taking bribes

Lydell B. Sherrer, a deputy commissioner, is accused of approaching a laid-off corrections worker and offering to save the worker's job for $10,000


By Sam Wood
The Philadelphia Inquirer

A senior officer for the New Jersey Department of Corrections is behind bars after being charged by federal authorities with taking more than $18,000 in bribes from workers frantic to preserve their jobs.

Lydell B. Sherrer, a deputy commissioner, was arrested Tuesday by the FBI on charges of soliciting and receiving bribes, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

In an affidavit filed in Newark, Sherrer is accused of approaching a laid-off corrections worker and offering to save the worker's job for $10,000.

The worker, who had been a confidential informant for the FBI since May 2010, recorded a series of phone conversations with Sherrer.

At a diner in Lawrenceville on May 17, the worker met with Sherrer. The FBI was listening and watching. Sherrer, 52, told the worker that he could ensure continued employment. He then accepted a $5,000 down payment to "make it work," according to the court documents.

In a recorded phone call the next month, Sherrer told the worker that if no job were available at the Department of Corrections, he would find the worker a job with a contractor and that either way, the worker would be making between "eighty [$80,000] and six figures," according to court documents.

Then Sherrer asked for additional "green" - meaning more money toward the $10,000, the documents state.

A second corrections worker, who had been demoted, was approached by Sherrer in August, according to the FBI. For a payment of $6,500, Sherrer told the worker he would provide "internal documents" that would support the worker's claims of discrimination that might result in a sizable legal settlement, according to the court papers.

The "documents" turned out to be newspaper clippings.

At a meeting Aug. 31 at a diner in East Windsor, Sherrer met with the demoted worker. Again, the FBI had wired the restaurant with sound and video.

Sherrer told the demoted worker that he would advise the Corrections Department to offer $750,000 to settle any legal claim the worker might file. In return, Sherrer accepted $1,300 in cash and a promise of an additional $5,200, according to the affidavit.

By September, the first worker still had not gotten a job. In a phone call, Sherrer said he was surprised. He said he had worked out an arrangement with a contractor. The FBI was recording the conversation.

"We discussed me getting a position based on a quid pro quo, right?" the worker said.

"Yes," replied Sherrer.

On Tuesday, Sherrer met with the demoted worker at a hotel restaurant in Princeton. FBI agents watched as the worker handed $2,000 to Sherrer.

Then they swooped in and arrested him.

Copyright 2010 Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC
All Rights Reserved

 

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