A former Passaic City Councilman  who served jail time after admitting to taking bribes has resigned from a job in the Murphy administration that he should never have had in the first place, sparking a larger investigation by the Attorney General's Office.

When the hiring was made public, Murphy defended giving Marcellus Jackson a $70,000 a year job as a special assistant with the Department of Education. The governor said that the man who was sentenced to 25 months in prison was just one example of people who deserve a second chance.

On Friday night Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said Jackson had resigned from a position his conviction should have disqualified him from in the first place. Grewal said after Jackson's conviction either the Attorney General or the county prosecutor should have filed an application for a forfeiture of public employment, but that that application was never filed.

"It's not clear why such an application was not made in 2007, shortly after Mr. Jackson's conviction," Grewal said.

In addition to looking at why the application was not filed in Jackson's case, Grewal said the Office of Public Integrity & Accountability will be reviewing other individuals who might have gotten public jobs they should have been disqualified from applying for.

"OPIA is currently reviewing these cases and intends to file additional forfeiture applications, where appropriate, once that review is complete," Grewal said.

He said his office "will review why such applications were not made in Mr. Jackson's case and in other cases," and will "implement controls" to make sure similar instances don't happen in the future.

Jackson was one of 11 people arrested in 2007 after pleading guilty to obstructing interstate commerce by extortion. He was released in July 2011. When asked about Jackson's past, Murphy said "somebody made a mistake, they admitted it, they repented, they paid their price." He called New Jersey "one of the harshest states" for people like Jackson to get back on their feet, and said giving people in those situations a second chance should be "the new norm."


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