ATLANTIC CITY — Mayor Lorenzo Langford has accused a former Atlantic County prosecutor of lying under oath during his testimony in the civil trial of former police Chief John Mooney earlier this week.
Langford issued a statement Friday to The Press of Atlantic City, capping off an accusation-filled week in the city.
Former Atlantic County Prosecutor Ted Housel, who testified in state Superior Court earlier this week, said he believed there was a “significant probability” the mayor might have known that city employee Akbar Malik Salaam was dealing heroin out of the All Wars Memorial building in 2009. During his testimony, Housel told the court that Salaam, who has since been sentenced to 40 years in prison, was using cameras at the building as a means of counter security in what had become Salaam’s personal “drug sales emporium.”
On Friday, however, Langford said that statement couldn’t be true because the building does not have any security cameras. Langford has previously denied any ties to drug deals in the city and called Housel’s comments reckless.
"There is not now, nor has there ever been security or surveillance cameras in that building," Langford said in a written statement. "In fact, the building is not even equipped with the necessary infrastructure or wiring to support security cameras. Clearly, Mr. Housel lied. Period."
Housel said he could not comment on what was said in an ongoing trial. During his testimony earlier this week, he did not speak in any detail about the surveillance he believed had been used or where the cameras might have come from. He said Salaam had been using cameras to look out for police officers.
Mooney is suing the city, claiming he was targeted for a demotion in 2010 because he fought the city administration on several issues, including Salaam’s employment with the city. Mooney’s claim against the city, Langford and former Public Safety Director Christine Petersen was filed in 2010, but has just recently come to trial.
Opening arguments before Superior Court Judge Nelson Johnson began Sept. 23. Two weeks of testimony have rehashed several controversies from Langford’s administration, including the temporary removal of the city’s K-9 unit from the streets, a move that Mooney argued was political.
Meanwhile, Langford, a Democrat, is facing a November election against Republican Don Guardian. On Friday, Langford said he believes that statements made in the trial have become political. An attempt is being made to shape public opinion prior to the election, he said.
"The overwhelming opinion from people who have stopped me to comment on this case definitely believe that it is frivolous and that the timing of this trial and the level of hype associated with it is politically motivated," Langford said.
Asked about Langford’s comments, Guardian issued a statement Friday saying that statements made in the Mooney trial have put the city in a negative light.
"I have been reading the newspaper like everyone else. A lot of negative things have been brought to light about the mayor and his administration through the testimony and sworn statements of others,” Guardian said. “Unfortunately, this just continues to make our city look bad. We deserve better."
Langford is expected to testify in the Mooney trial next week.
Staff writer Lynda Cohen contributed to this report.
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