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FLORHAM PARK, NJ-One day after pleading guilty to 18 counts of federal income tax fraud and 16 counts of campaign contribution fraud, and to charges that he retaliated against one of the government’s witnesses against him, Charles Kushner has stepped down as chairman of the Kushner Cos., based here. Kushner, who faces up to two years behind bars, is turning over the reins of the company to real estate executive and attorney Alan R. Hammer, who will serve as acting chairman, and Clive S. Cummis, who will take over as vice chairman.

Hammer, who has been involved in the ownership and operation of thousands of apartment units in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, will step down as managing partner of the Roseland-based law firm of Wolf Block Brach Eichler. Cummis, who founded the Newark-based law firm of Sills Cummis Epstein & Gross, is also vice chairman of the board of Caesars Entertainment.

They will head a senior management group that will otherwise remain intact, according to company officials. Among the top group are Richard Stadtmauer and Jeffrey Freireich, both holding the title of vice chairman/managing partner, and Charles Ramat, CEO and president.

Kushner’s departure from an active role in the company he built into a $1-billion real estate giant caps a downward spiral that began when the feds started looking into his affairs a year and a half ago, a process prompted by a well-publicized family feud. On Wednesday, he admitted to Judge Jose Linares in US District Court in Newark, NJ that by illegally claiming $1 million in charitable deductions, he defrauded the federal government of an estimated $325,000. Kushner also pleaded guilty to the government’s charge that he hid improper campaign contributions from the Federal Election Commission.

As far as the witness retaliation charge, Kushner admitted in court that he arranged a videotaped tryst between that government witness, who happens to be his brother-in-law, and a prostitute.

Kushner has also been linked to the travails of Gov. James McGreevey, who last week announced his resignation. He has been a close confidante of the governor, as well as his largest campaign contributor. Until a year ago, when he bowed out as the federal probe began to catch up with him, Kushner was a board member and McGreevey’s handpicked choice as the next chairman of the Port Authority of NY/NJ. And it was Kushner who gave a hired and signed the working papers for Golan Cipel, an Israeli citizen who figures prominently in McGreevey’s latest woes.

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