Well, it's nothing if not on brand for New Jersey politics.
Five politicians in New Jersey have been charged in a bribery case with taking thousands of dollars in cash that was delivered in envelopes, paper bags and a coffee cup.
The revelations are the result of a state public-corruption investigation from Attorney General’s office.
Here is the announcement of the charges from the New Jersey Attorney General’s office:
AG Grewal Announces Criminal Charges Against Five Public Officials and Political Candidates in Major Corruption Investigation- Jersey City School Board President Sudhan Thomas and former Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell among those charged with taking bribes in investigation by Office of Public Integrity and Accountability
And here are the names of the accused, who appear in the image in this post, a screenshot from the State of New Jersey's press release today about the criminal charges.
The following five defendants were charged separately in criminal complaints with second-degree bribery in official and political matters:
Sudhan Thomas – Jersey City School Board President
Jason O’Donnell – Former State Assemblyman and Former Bayonne Mayoral Candidate
John Cesaro – Former Morris County Freeholder
John Windish – Former Mount Arlington Council Member
Mary Dougherty – Former Morris County Freeholder Candidate
The defendants who held public office at the time of the alleged conduct – Thomas, Cesaro and Windish – also are charged with second-degree acceptance or receipt of unlawful benefit by a public servant for official behavior.
The quoted dialogue is pretty rich. Can't make this stuff up.
CW: Make me special counsel for …
Thomas: Real estate.
CW: Yeah, real estate… that’s perfect.
Thomas: Yeah, nobody questions anything… nobody questions all of that stuff.
Seriously, right out of a D-list crime drama script .
CW: “These are my straws… so I just need your support for my reappointment. Don’t forget me.”
Dougherty: “I won’t. I promise. A friend is a friend, my friend.”
The Wall Street Journal reports that the investigation began in 2018, and focused on public officials and political candidates from Hudson and Morris counties in New Jersey.
The defendants are accused of accepting bribes from an unidentified tax attorney, in exchange for promising to hire the lawyer and his firm. The tax attorney, who is a cooperating witness, delivered cash to the defendants in restaurants, parking lots and at a political fundraiser, officials said. The tax attorney also used illegal straw donors to make contributions to the political campaigns of some of the defendants, officials said.
“We allege that these political candidates were all too willing to sell the authority of their public office or the office they sought in exchange for an envelope filled with cash or illegal checks from straw donors,” said Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. “This is old-school political corruption at its worst—the kind that undermines the political process and erodes public faith in government.”
Messrs. Thomas, Cesaro and Windish have also been charged with second-degree acceptance or receipt of unlawful benefit by a public servant for official behavior.
An attorney for Mr. O’Donnell said his client intends to plead not guilty and to contest the allegations.
An attorney for Mr. Cesaro said that his client denies the allegations and would aggressively contest the charges.
An attorney for Mr. Thomas didn’t respond to a request for comment. An attorney for Mr. Windish couldn’t be located.
Ms. Dougherty through her attorney said she would fight the charges.
Five New Jersey Politicians Accused of Bribery
Defendants allegedly accepted tens of thousands of dollars in cash and political contributions in exchange for promises to hire tax attorney
[Source: The Wall Street Journal]