Jailed pol wants Atlantic City to pay legal bills

July 14, 2009 6:08:31 PM PDT
Sex, lies and videotape were all in a day's work, according to Atlantic City's jailed former City Council president. Craig Callaway, who pleaded guilty last year to luring a council rival to a motel and secretly taping him having sex with a prostitute, wants the city to pay his legal bills and any civil judgment against him.

Callaway claims he was acting in his official capacity as a city councilman.

But he shouldn't expect a check anytime soon.

"Spying on a fellow council member certainly does not come under the duties of a council member," Mayor Lorenzo Langford said. "That kind of invasion of privacy does not fall under the auspices of your job."

The mayor also said the fact that Callaway pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit invasion of privacy should kill any hope he has of getting his legal fees reimbursed - something municipalities commonly do for employees who are acquitted of charges related to their official duties.

Callaway's request came in a document obtained by The Press of Atlantic City. Three other defendants, including Councilman John Schultz and Callaway's brother David, a former city public works director, want the same deal. They have pleaded innocent in the case, and are scheduled for a hearing Aug. 3.

Callaway is serving a three-year sentence as he serves a federal prison term in an unrelated bribery case.

The City Council would have to approve any agreement with Callaway regarding his legal fees or liability from the civil suit filed by Councilman Eugene Robinson.

Callaway orchestrated the scheme against Robinson, who he viewed as a rival, while Callaway was awaiting sentencing in the bribery case He admitted in December that he and others hired a prostitute to lure Robinson to a motel in neighboring Absecon, that they had hidden a clock radio with a hidden video camera connected to a recorder in the next room.

Prosecutors say they filmed Robinson having sex with the woman, then sent the tape to media outlets in an attempt to force Robinson to resign. Instead, he contacted authorities and complained that he was being blackmailed.

Robinson, a Baptist minister, said the sex was consensual and the money he gave the woman was to buy sodas. He fell ill from stress-related ailments following the episode and was unable to attend council meetings for several months.

"The actions of all of the defendants destroyed his health, took away his political career and damaged his good name and reputation," Robinson's lawyer, Chris Brown said in a written statement. "When public servants and government employees run amok, everyone loses."

David Callaway and Floyd Tally, another defendant in the video blackmail case, were also charged in a case in which they allegedly committed voter fraud by collecting and submitting fake ballots in last month's Democratic mayoral primary. Both deny any wrongdoing.

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