NEWARK, NJ (AP) – The former mayor of New Jersey’s largest city returned to City Hall for the first time since he got out of prison.

City leaders, police, city workers and community activists lined up to shake hands with Sharpe James on Thursday.

James ran Newark for more than 20 years before he was convicted and sent to prison on charges of abusing his office by steering city-owned land to his one-time mistress.

James told The Star-Ledger of Newark he was “just a citizen going to a council meeting.”

James said as a property owner, he’s “very much concerned about the property tax rate.” James said this year’s 16 percent increase threatened Newark’s middle class.

James has been working as an adviser at the Christian Love Baptist Church in Irvington.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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