TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission was going after former Newark mayor Sharpe James for using campaign money to pay for his criminal defense.

James ran Newark for more than 20 years and was also a state senator before he was convicted in 2008 and sent to prison on charges of abusing his office by steering city-owned land to his one-time mistress.

ELEC has filed a civil lawsuit charging James and his campaign treasurer, Cheryl Johnson, of violating the state’s campaign finance laws. It seeks repayment of the $94,000 in campaign money, plus $6,000 in fines.

James tells The Star-Ledger that the lawsuit is baseless.

Since returning from prison, James has been working as an adviser at the Christian Love Baptist Church in Irvington.

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