Matt O’Donnell, the cooperating witness in a state corruption probe, has billed the Township of East Hanover more than $6.8 million for legal services over the last decade, including nearly $1.1 million in 2019.
O’Donnell is expected to be reappointed tonight as the municipal attorney, according to an agenda for tonight’s council reorganization meeting.
Records obtained by the New Jersey Globe show that O’Donnell’s Morristown-based law firm, O’Donnell McCord, billed East Hanover $1,097,531 in legal fees last year. That is up from $997,951 in 2018 and $888,136 in 2017.
The East Hanover business administrator is Joseph Tempesta, the Republican mayor of West Caldwell.
Straw donors connected to O’Donnell have contributed nearly $10,000 to Tempesta.
East Hanover Mayor Joseph Pannullo told the Globe in December that he had no plans to replace O’Donnell.
“You’re innocent until proven guilty, Pannullo said. “Until I find out he’s guilty, this is still America.”
First Lady Tammy Murphy is scheduled to speak at tonight’s meeting, although it’s not immediately clear whether she will be in the room while the council discusses O’Donnell’s reappointment.
It’s also not clear whether O’Donnell will attend tonight’s meeting.
Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced criminal charges against five former public officials or candidates who were caught on tape being offered a bribe by a cooperating witness that has since been identified as O’Donnell.
The reason for O’Donnell’s decision to become a cooperating witness is still unknown.
Many of O’Donnell’s clients, including Hackensack, Bloomfield, Wall, Manalapan, Middletown and Holmdel and the counties of Monmouth and Morris have dropped him as their tax appeal attorney. Mount Arlington replaced O’Donnell as municipal attorney last week.