NJ Attorney General steps down amid scandal

For the second time in three years, Zulima Farber’s error in judgment concerning minor traffic issues has cost her a high-profile judicial job in New Jersey.

First it was a nomination to the state Supreme Court. Now, it’s her job as state attorney general.

“Not once, but twice, yes,” Farber, 61, acknowledged on Tuesday at a Statehouse news conference where she reluctantly announced her resignation as the state’s top law enforcement officer.

Her decision to step down came hours after a special prosecutor released a report saying she violated state ethics laws by going to the scene of her boyfriend’s traffic stop in May and allowing police to give him preferential treatment.

Farber’s latest political demise comes seven months after she was tapped by Gov. Jon S. Corzine to be the state’s first Hispanic attorney general, heading the 9,600-member Department of Law and Public Safety.

Her standing started to unravel after she was accused of intervening during a traffic stop of her live-in boyfriend, Hamlet Goore, on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend.

Goore’s van was found to be improperly registered and his license appeared to be suspended. Farber showed up at the scene in her state car and Goore was allowed to drive home.

In July, Corzine appointed special prosecutor Richard J. Williams, a retired appellate judge, to investigate the incident and whether any criminal or ethical misdoing occurred. Williams estimated that the investigation cost the state up to $70,000.

Williams found that Farber didn’t commit a crime by going to the scene. However, he said she did violate three ethics provisions that bar state officials from accepting favors because of their position.

Farber has steadfastly denied doing anything to intentionally influence the police.

“I admit to being human and making that error. I am truly sorry and apologize to all New Jerseyans for that mistake,” said Farber, who will leave office at the end of the month.

The report’s findings were an embarrassment to Corzine, who campaigned on an agenda to clean up corruption by public officials and restore ethical standards to state government. After Corzine was elected in November, Farber served as co-chair of his ethics advisory group.

Farber had also been considered for an appointment to the New Jersey Supreme Court in 2003. But when it became public that a bench warrant had been issued over an unpaid traffic ticket, former Gov. James McGreevey dropped her from the nomination.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press