Clarence Norman, Jr. (born August 25, 1951) is a former American politician from the state of New York. He was the former chairman of the Kings County Democratic Party and member of the New York State Assembly from the 43rd Assembly District in Central Brooklyn, which includes Crown Heights and parts of Flatbush and Prospect Heights.
He was convicted of three felony counts of accepting illegal campaign contributions during his 2000 and 2002 re-election campaigns for his seat in the New York State Assembly and served jail time.
Clarence Norman, Jr. is the son of Clarence Norman, a politically influential head pastor of the First Baptist Church of Crown Heights.
After earning degrees from Howard University and St. John's School of Law he entered politics, first serving as general counsel to the New York State Assembly Subcommittee on Probation and Parole. He later served in the Kings County District Attorney's office for five years as an Assistant District Attorney in the felony bureau. In 1982 Norman was elected for the first time to the New York State Assembly from the 43rd Assembly District District in Central Brooklyn, which includes Crown Heights and parts of Flatbush and Prospect Heights.
He served as District Leader from 1986 to 1993. In 1990, Norman became the first African-American, and the youngest Democrat, to be elected as chairman of the Executive Committee of the Kings County Democratic County Committee. Heading the largest county Democratic organization in the country, Norman became a more influential powerbroker, on a municipal, statewide, and national level.
In addition to being a member of the Assembly for 23 years, and head of the Kings County Democratic Party for 15, Norman also held a number of other positions within the city, state, and national Democratic Party.
Delegate to the Democratic National Convention, 2000 and 2004
Presidential Elector from New York, 2000
Member of Democratic National Committee from New York, 2004
Assistant Majority Leader of the New York State Assembly, 2001
Re-elected easily from an overwhelmingly Democratic district, the first major challenge to Norman's political power base in Brooklyn came in 1998, when NYPD officer, minister, and future City Councilman James E. Davis ran against him in a Democratic primary. Although Norman emerged victorious from that race, he was only re-elected by merely 677 (580) votes. The extremely slim margin of this victory signaled the first chinks in Norman's previously impregnable political armor.
The verdict on Norman's alleged campaign practices stemmed from an investigation initiated by Kings County District Attorney Charles "Joe" Hynes in 2003, which originally focused on judiciary corruption and veered off into focusing on numerous allegations of judgeships in the borough being sold to wealthy campaign donors within the Democratic Party.
That year (2003) a Brooklyn judge, Gerald P. Garson, was taped taking money from an attorney. He informed investigators that he was aware of a much broader scheme whereby prospective candidates purchased their seats on the bench. The Judge offered the Kings County Democratic leader, Norman. In an attempt to secure evidence to support his allegation and to reduce his sentence, Garson agreed to go undercover to capture Norman on tape. The judge wore a wire for nearly a year without obtaining incriminating evidence against Norman.
While Garson's bribery case was under way, a report appeared in the New York Post. It was reported that "a former Brooklyn judge allegedly was asked to pay more than $100,000 to stay on the bench-and then lost her seat after she refused. “Congressman Ed Towns and a lawyer who handled his election matters in 2000, Bernard "Mitch" Alter, allegedly asked Judge Maxine Archer for $160,000.” When approached, Alter did not deny the claim but stated that it was $140,000 for campaign expenses. Alter confirmed that he submitted an estimate requesting $56,000 for petitioning, mailing and Election Day operations, plus $54,000 in consulting fees. The Post went on to say, "the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office was interested in speaking with Archer as part of an ongoing grand jury probe into the reported sales of judgeships in Kings County."
Ironically, nothing came of the allegations made against Congressman Rev. Ed Towns and Bernard Alter. When it as heard that Hynes was dropping the investigation against Norman two female Judges angered about the results of their 2001 campaigns complained to Hynes that Norman told them to come up with $100,000 or lose the party nod. The implication was that Norman had bullied them into using preferred printer and extorting money from them. The complaints caused Hynes office to shift from investigating judiciary corruption to concentrating on the sale of judgeship. Eventually Hynes narrowed his investigation to Norman campaign practices.
In April 2003 Hynes alleged that the system through which candidates for State Supreme Court judgeships were selected was not democratic, and essentially involved an exchange of seats in return for campaign contributions to prominent Democratic Party officeholders and powerbrokers.
On March 26 Norman was acquitted of charges that he had stolen over $5,000 in travel expenses-reimbursement-between the state capital (Albany) and Brooklyn, which involved a motor vehicle that the Kings County Democratic Party had paid for. This was his first acquittal in three trials.
Norman still faces prosecution on a fourth charge, which involves the initial source of this investigation, i.e. accusations of extortion involving prospective judicial candidates. In this case, the charge that his support of judicial candidates was contingent upon their use of a specific printer he and his organization had ties to.
On September 27, 2005 a Brooklyn jury found him guilty of violating New York's election law and falsifying business records when he did not report contributions to his campaign's treasurer, Carmen Martinez. The charges involved a request of the New York State Association of Service Stations and Repair Shops-a lobbying group for the auto industry-to pay campaign funds in excess of $10,000, even though the legal threshold in New York State is $3,100 for Assembly candidates, in both party primaries and general elections. The prosecution argued that Norman had asked for campaign contributions of $7,500 in 2000, and $5,400 during his subsequent election campaign.
In December of that same year Norman was convicted once again, this time, on charges that he stole $5,000 donated to his re-election campaign in 2001 and deposited it into his personal bank account. The donation in question was a check written by a political club under Norman's control.
On February 23, 2007, Norman was convicted for a third time on charges of grand larceny and extortion. Prosecutors said he had coerced two candidates for civil court judge to pay thousands of dollars to certain campaign consultants, or lose his organization’s support in the 2002 primary. While he was acquitted on five other counts of the original indictment he vowed to appeal the latest conviction.
As a result of his convictions Norman was forced to resign from his position as chairman of the Kings County Democratic Party, member of the Assembly from the 43rd District, and was disbarred. Norman is currently serving a jail sentence.
After Norman's conviction, a special election was held to determine who would succeed him in the 43rd Assembly District. Karim Camara, a member of the church where Clarence Norman Sr. is pastor, won that election overwhelmingly, defeating two opponents, one of whom was the brother of former City Councilman-and Norman rival: James E. Davis. 
Assemblyman Vito Lopez eventually replaced Norman as leader of the Kings County Democratic Party, winning a ballot with the support of 28 county leaders. more » « less