Former Salem Housing Authority (SHA) Executive Director Isaac A. Young was guilty of permitting the release of a confidential New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services document in 2012, a jury found Thursday.
The verdict was returned late Thursday morning after about two-and-a-half hours of deliberation that started Wednesday afternoon. Young was also found guilty of hindering his own apprehension and false swearing.
The charges stemmed from letters containing the DYFS document being mailed out to residents of the city in an apparent attempt to derail the campaign of current Salem Mayor Charles Washington. As a member of the Campbell Center board — where Washington served as executive director — Young was one of the people that received the letter after they were taken from the police department.
Former Salem City Police Sergeant Leon Daniels testified in the trial that Young called him into the SHA office some time after Washington won the Democratic nomination in a June primary election. He said Young gave him copies of the document, envelopes and stamps, as well as a list of registered voters with their addresses and instructed him to send out the letters.
Daniels was questioned by investigators after Salem Police Chief John A. Pelura III recognized his handwriting on some of the envelopes.
Young gave two statements to police during their investigation. The first came after they raided the SHA offices in August 2012. In that interview he told authorities that he only made four or five copies to give out to people in his office, but he later destroyed the copied documents.
In his second statement, given in October 2012, Young said he did give the document to Daniels, but didn’t think he was doing anything illegal with them. He also claimed that it was Daniels who solicited him for the document so he could give them out to other officers in the Salem Police Department.
The trial that concluded Thursday was actually the second time Young’s case came before a jury. The first trial, which was held in May, was voided after Young’s attorney, Ronald Thompson, filed a last-minute motion to change his defense.
Thompson said that Young’s second statement was a retraction of his first. Superior Court Judge Timothy Farrell decided that declaring a mistrial was the only way to be impartial to both sides since the state did not have adequate time to prepare for the new defense.
The charges related to releasing the documents and false swearing are both fourth-degree offenses and carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison, according to Salem County First Assistant Prosecutor Bill Brennan. However, Brennan said the charges also carry a presumption of non-incarceration.
After the jury gave it’s verdict, Young did not respond to a request for a comment as he walked through the court house hall.
Salem County Prosecutor said he believes the jury reached the correct verdict and thanked the people involved in the case.
“I want to thank Lt. Fred Parkell and Chief John Pelura for their excellent work conducting the investigation and congratulate First Assistant Bill Brennan for his masterful job in presenting the case,” he said.
Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 7.
Young is expected to go on trial again after he was indicted separately on a charge of official misconduct. Young allegedly instructed SHA employees to do maintenance work at rental properties he owned in the city.
If convicted, Young could face between five and 10 years in prison. It’s unclear when Young’s next trial will begin.