ATLANTIC CITY — A city supervisor allegedly sold drugs from the All Wars Memorial building while on city time and from his city-issued vehicle, leading to his arrest Wednesday morning.
Akbar Malik Salaam, also known as William McDaniels, is charged with official misconduct and multiple drug offenses, according to Police Chief John J. Mooney III, whose department partnered with the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office on “a lengthy investigation.”
Salaam, 57, was arrested while leaving his Egg Harbor Township home to head to work, Atlantic County Prosecutor Ted Housel said.
Over several months, Salaam received thousands of dollars selling more than a half-ounce of heroin to undercover officers while on his job in the memorial building — which functions as a meeting space and community center — and from his official city vehicle, the prosecutor said. Driving raised another issue, as Salaam’s license is suspended, according to a separate charge against him.
Housel said an official misconduct charge is warranted because Salaam allegedly sold the drugs while on duty in the building he was responsible for overseeing.
Salaam, a longtime supporter of Mayor Lorenzo Langford, has a long history of arrests dating to at least 1984, when he sold nearly a half-gram of heroin to an undercover officer. A Press of Atlantic City story at his sentencing says the prosecutor mentioned two previous drug-related convictions.
James Leonard Jr., who defended Salaam’s brother Vincent McDaniels in a 2004 drug kingpin case, called the case “a well-timed, calculated political hit meant to besmirch the Langford administration.”
“This case has absolutely nothing to do with Mayor Langford, but has everything to do with politics,” he said. Mr. Salaam vehemently denies that he is in any way involved with drugs or the distribution of drugs. What’s in the past is in the past. He absolutely, 100 percent, maintains his innocence and intends to vigorously defend himself against these baseless charges.”
Langford aide Kevin Hall said the mayor would not comment Wednesday.
“He really wants to take a 24-hour period just to kind of get as much information on this as he can,” Hall said. “But he will be making a comment tomorrow.”
Langford praised Salaam during at least one past mayoral debate as an example of an ex-convict becoming a productive city employee, defending his choice to hire ex-offenders.
Salaam has been indicted at least eight times, according to court records. But not all of Salaam’s arrests were before his employment with the city.
On Sept. 5, 2003, he and 13 others were arrested in “Operation A.C. Pirates,” targeting the selling of name-brand knock-offs and pirated movies. At the time, Salaam was an assistant to then-Public Works Director Michael Scott. But he was not on duty at the time of the arrest.
Salaam was indicted on a fourth-degree forgery charge, which usually carries no jail time. But his lawyer got the indictment thrown out, and he never faced the charges.
“They never presented any evidence that anything was on the discs,” defense attorney Joseph Levin said. “Without those, they couldn’t prove the case.”
Employees have accused Langford of giving the city supervisor special treatment since his hiring in July 2002, the first year of Langford’s first term. Former City Council President Craig Callaway once claimed that Langford used Salaam as his unofficial bodyguard while a councilman.
In September, The Press of Atlantic City revealed that the employees assigned to the All Wars Memorial Building were paid large amounts of overtime in 2009. Salaam, who supervised the group and approved the payments, received $15,532.46 in overtime — nearly half of his $35,211.78 salary from January 2009 to Sept. 14, 2009.
Langford previously defended the use of overtime at the building, saying the money needed to be spent to maximize the use of the building.
The current charges facing Salaam include a second-degree distribution of more than a half-ounce of heroin, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and $150,000 in fines. The official misconduct charge is also second-degree, and carries a mandatory five-year period of parole ineligibility.
Salaam is currently in the Atlantic County Justice Facility on $250,000 full cash bail.
The FBI assisted in the investigation.
Housel’s announcement of the arrest indicated the investigation may be ongoing.
“I ask for any individuals who are aware of additional wrongdoing occurring at the All Wars Memorial building to step forward, anonymously if they wish, and meet with us,” he said.
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