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Neil M. Cohen (born February 11, 1951) is an American Democratic Party politician, who served in the New Jersey General Assembly from 1994 to 2008 (and also from 1990-1991), where he represented the 20th Legislative District.

Early life

Cohen was born in Newark, New Jersey.[1] He is Jewish and has been a resident of Roselle, New Jersey.[2] He received a B.A. from Athens College (now Athens State University) in History and was awarded a J.D. from the Howard University.[3]


Cohen served in the Assembly as Deputy Majority Leader from 2002 until his resignation, was the Deputy Minority Leader from 1996-2001 and was Minority Whip from 1994-1995.[3]

Cohen served in the Assembly on the Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee (as Chair) and the Labor Committee.[3] As Assemblyman, Cohen sponsored measures establishing Vietnam Veterans Remembrance Day and Holocaust Remembrance Day programs in New Jersey.[4] He was the co-sponsor of a ban on semi-automatic firearms enacted by the Administration of Governor of New Jersey James Florio, and was one of only three Democrats to oppose the Florio Administration's income tax increase.[5]

Cohen served on the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders from 1988 to 1990. He is an attorney with the firm of Gill & Cohen, P.C. together with fellow Assemblywoman Nia Gill of the 34th Legislative District.[3] Cohen was an aide in 1976 to the Deputy Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. From 1979—1981, he was a trial attorney in the Office of the Public Defender.[4]

Sex offenses

Cohen was hospitalized and placed in psychiatric care on July 24, 2008, after investigators from the New Jersey Attorney General's office removed a state-issued computer from his legislative office as part of an investigation into claims that the computer had been used to store child pornography. State Senator Raymond Lesniak and Assemblyman Joseph Cryan, who represent the same district and share a common office in Union Township, notified authorities after staffers had discovered the material on the computer in question.[6][7][8]

Cohen resigned from the General Assembly on July 28, 2008, submitting a one-sentence letter of resignation stating "Please accept this letter as my formal resignation from the General Assembly of the State of New Jersey, effective immediately", and offering no explanation for his actions. The resignation was accepted immediately by Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts.[9][10] Democratic committee members from the district selected Annette Quijano to fill Cohen's vacancy.[11]

Cohen was indicted for official misconduct (2nd degree), reproduction of child pornography (2nd degree), distribution of child pornography (2nd degree), and possession of child pornography (4th degree).[12] In a plea agreement, the state dropped the official misconduct charge and three of four child pornography counts, and on April 12, 2010, Cohen pleaded guilty to the charge of endangering the welfare of a child by distributing child pornography. Initially facing up to 30 years imprisonment, State Attorney General Paula Dow sought a five-year prison term for Cohen, as well his disbarment.[13] He was incarcerated from November 4, 2010 until January 4, 2012, when he was released on parole.[14]


  1. ^ Assembly Member Neil M. Cohen, Project Vote Smart. Accessed August 12, 2007.
  2. ^ Mansnerus, Laura. "Assembly Eases Way For Suing Churches", The New York Times, December 15, 2005. Accessed March 13, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d Assemblyman Cohen's legislative web page, New Jersey Legislature. Accessed April 18, 2008].
  4. ^ a b Assemblyman Neil Cohen, Accessed May 17, 2007.
  5. ^ Kerr, Peter. "Florio Tax Plan Clears Hurdle in Assembly Vote", The New York Times, June 19, 1990. Accessed April 18, 2008. "But other Democrats, Joseph A. Mecca of Clifton, Neil M. Cohen of Union and Cyril Yannarelli of Paterson, opposed the income tax rise."
  6. ^ McAlpin, John P. "Lawmaker investigated for child porn, sources say", The Record (Bergen County), July 24, 2008. Accessed July 24, 2008.
  7. ^ Margolin, Josh; and Schwaneberg, Robert. "Assemblyman Neil Cohen under child porn investigation",The Star-Ledger, July 24, 2008. Accessed July 25, 2008.
  8. ^ Friedman, Matt. "Cohen under investigation for child pornography", PolitickerNJ, July 24, 2008. Accessed July 25, 2008.
  9. ^ Young, Elise. "Cohen resigns following porn discovery", The Record (Bergen County), July 28, 2008. Accessed July 28, 2008.
  10. ^ Friedman, Matt. "Cohen Resigns", PolitickerNJ, July 28, 2008. Accessed July 28, 2008.
  11. ^ via Associated Press. "Dems choose Cohen's successor", The Press of Atlantic City, August 21, 2008. Accessed July 15, 2010.
  12. ^ Former New Jersey Assemblyman Neil M. Cohen Faces New Child Pornography Charge in Connection With Computer in Law Office Office of the New Jersey Attorney General, Anne Milgram.
  13. ^ N.J. Lawyer Pleads Guilty to Child Pornography Charge, New Jersey Law Journal, by Charles Toutant, April 13, 2010
  14. ^ "New Jersey Department of Corrections website accessed on January 14, 2012"