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Martin G. "Marty" Barnes (born 1948) is an American Republican Party politician from Paterson, New Jersey. He is most notable for the five years he served as mayor of the third largest city in New Jersey, as well as the corruption scandal that helped cost him re-election and eventually led to him serving time in prison.

Electoral history

Prior to his time as mayor Barnes served as a City Councilman from Paterson's 3rd Ward, first elected to the council in 1974. Following the election of Bill Pascrell to Congress in 1996, Barnes was appointed to serve as mayor in January 1997 following Pascrell's swearing in as Congressman. He won a special election that November to keep his seat, and then won election to a full term in May 1998.[1] Although Paterson's elections are nonpartisan, Barnes was the first Republican mayor elected in Paterson since Lawrence F. "Pat" Kramer was re-elected in 1978. He also was the city's first African American mayor.

Controversy

Near the end of Barnes' term, he became ensnared in a corruption investigation that had been launched by the state into the dealings of several large cities throughout the state. In January 2002, recently appointed New Jersey United States Attorney Chris Christie announced a 40-count indictment against Barnes, citing among other things his forcing contractors to pay for trips he took while mayor and providing "female companions" for him to travel with. Barnes also was charged with extortion and graft, the latter due to his dealings with an Irvington, New Jersey paving contractor who had earned $16 million in city contracts by providing services for Barnes.[2] It was largely through his dealings with the contractor, United Gunite, that the investigation into Barnes deepened as the firm had been accused of paying bribes to many municipal officials statewide.[3]

Barnes, who was set to begin campaigning to win a second term as mayor in the May city election, initially denied the charges and promised to fight them vigorously, periodically proclaiming his innocence and vowing to vindicate himself at trial while campaigning to keep his seat. Voters in Paterson, however, were not responsive to his efforts and as the probe into his dealings grew Barnes' support waned. Despite his repeated proclamations voters did not buy Barnes' story and he lost the mayor's seat to Democrat Jose "Joey" Torres.

Two months after Barnes' defeat, he entered a plea deal with the federal government which resulted in a 37-month prison sentence in 2003. Although he was admitting guilt, presiding judge William Bassler noted that Barnes had not taken full responsibility for his actions. Judge Bassler specifically noted Barnes' blaming his crimes on overwork and getting "caught up" in city politics for his inability to see that what he was doing was wrong. In sentencing Barnes, Bassler said that Barnes had betrayed the trust of the citizens of Paterson, the city, and his own family with his conduct.[3]

References

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