ASBURY PARK — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says a municipal official who resigned from a $70,000-a-year state job after it came to light he admitted taking bribes from undercover FBI agents deserves a second chance.

Murphy on Tuesday addressed Marcellus Jackson's resignation at an unrelated event in Asbury Park.

The Democrat says he was taken aback by harsh reaction to news that state law required Jackson be disqualified from public office. He says Jackson paid a price and earned second chance.

Jackson, a Democrat who served on the Paramus City Council, was among 11 officials arrested in a 2007 corruption sweep. He pleaded guilty to obstructing interstate commerce by extortion and received a 25-month prison sentence.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced Friday evening that Marcellus Jackson had stepped down from the position as a special assistant in the state Department of Education's Office of Civic and Social Engagement.

Jackson, a Democrat who served on the Paramus City Council, was among 11 officials arrested in a 2007 corruption sweep. He pleaded guilty to obstructing interstate commerce by extortion and received a 25-month prison sentence.

Gov. Phil Murphy said his administration hired Jackson in July after a legal review, but Grewal said state law required that Jackson be disqualified from any public office in New Jersey.

New Jersey 101.5's Jeff Deminski, in a piece published Monday, argued Murphy was "incompetent" to hire Jackson despite the state law.

"So we have one of two things going on here. The governor is either such a rookie having never held elected office before that he is fumbling in the dark unaware of what the laws are ... Or even worse, he just didn't care what the law is. Your wealth doesn't mean you get to re-write the rules, Phil," Deminski wrote.

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