Home>Local>Essex>Cooperating witness in state corruption probe resembles attorney Matthew O’Donnell

Attorney Matthew O’Donnell, right, with, from left, the late State Sen. Anthony R. Bucco, Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty, Democratic freeholder candidate Mary Dougherty, and former Morris County Sheriff Edward Rochford, at a reception for the Morris County St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 2, 2018. Photo courtesy of Mary Dougherty.

Cooperating witness in state corruption probe resembles attorney Matthew O’Donnell

Morristown lawyer has close ties to Fulop, other local politicians

By David Wildstein, December 19 2019 3:56 pm

Update: the New Jersey Globe has confirmed that Matthew O’Donnell is the state’s cooperating witness.

A Morristown lawyer who resembles the cooperating witness in the state’s bribery case against five former candidates and public officials has close ties to several New Jersey political players, including Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop.

Several sources, all speaking on the condition of anonymity, have suggested the cooperating witness is Matthew O’Donnell, a politically active attorney who represents counties and municipalities on tax appeal work and an apparent penchant for straw donors.

O’Donnell was involved in Fulop’s campaign as a fundraiser. Sources say that he was also involved with Fulop’s super PAC.

He was named to Fulop’s transition team following the 2013 mayoral election, and later became the attorney for Jersey City’s tax appeals during a controversial revaluation period.

Jersey City Corporation Peter Baker. Photo courtesy of Jersey City.

O’Donnell was effectively fired in March 2018, around the same time Fulop named former deputy state attorney general Peter Baker as the Jersey City Corporation Counsel. Baker came from the Official Corruption Bureau, where he prosecuted Bob Schroeder, an assemblyman from Bergen County and failed 2005 candidate for the Republican nomination for governor.

The time periods for the allegations made by Attorney General Gurbir Grewal against Jersey City Board of Education President Sudhan Thomas, a Fulop ally, former Morris County Freeholder John Cesaro, former Mount Arlington Councilman John Windish, former Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell (D-Bayonne), and former Morris County Democratic freeholder candidate Mary Dougherty, a Democratic State Committeewoman from Morris County, all came after Baker’s arrival in Jersey City and followed O’Donnell’s ouster as tax counsel.

Records show that O’Donnell also had contacts in Monmouth, Essex and Morris counties, doing tax work in Wall, West Caldwell and East Hanover, among other places.

He is also the municipal attorney in Mount Arlington, a point that was referenced in a press release issued by the state attorney general detailing allegations against Windish.

O’Donnell did not immediately return messages left on his law office voicemail at 1:04 and 3:29 PM, the later one of which specifically sought his confirmation that he was the cooperating witness.

Baker did not immediately return a 3:37 PM call.

The Attorney General’s office did not immediately respond to an email regarding O’Donnell sent at 3:05 PM.

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