Ex-Newark mayor's aide takes stand at corruption trial

Testimony began Tuesday with former Newark Mayor Sharpe James? former secretary taking the stand at his corruption trial.

Sharpe James is accused of using his power to strong-arm land deals for his former girlfriend, Tamika Riley, at rock bottom prices. Prosecutors say Riley then turned over those properties for huge profits.

The prosecution called Rosemarie Posella to the stand. Posella was James? personal secretary for 20 years. Posella testified James and Riley?s relationship became very close beginning in late 1999. Posella also said that relationship included trips to Georgia and California.

The prosecution asserts the pair?s relationship enabled Riley to buy nine city-owned lots at low prices. Prosecutors claim Riley?s company, TRI, spent $16,000 on lots at South 12th Street, West Alpine and St. James streets. They say that investment turned into a $435,000 profit.

The defense maintains the land transactions were open to all. It says each deal was perfectly legal and not authorized by James, but by the Newark City Council.

Posella will be cross-examined Wednesday. The Newark city clerk is also expected to testify.

Opening arguments heard in first of 2 Jamestrials

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