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Mary Dougherty. (Photo: Facebook.)

Mary Dougherty faces probation in plea agreement with prosecutors

Former Morris freeholder candidate admits to accepting straw donor money from cooperating witness known to be Matt O’Donnell

By David Wildstein, February 19 2021 4:02 pm

Mary Dougherty faces probation after a plea agreement with prosecutors who charged her in December 2019 with accepting a $10,000 cash bribe in her 2018 bid for Morris County Freeholder.

Dougherty pleaded guilty to filing a false report with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, acknowledging that she understood campaign contributions were coming from straw donors.

Prosecutors charged the former Morristown Planning Board member with accepting $100 bills in a take-out coffee cup from a cooperating witness, now known as Morristown attorney Matt O’Donnell, in exchange for support of the reappointment of the cooperating witness as an assistant Morris County Counsel.

In her plea, Dougherty admitted that she returned the $10,000 and instead asked for four checks, each under the maximum legal limit of $2,600.

She is scheduled to be sentenced on March 18.

O’Donnell, the state’s cooperating witness in a low-level corruption sting operation, continued to practice law and bill public entities for two years despite entering into a plea agreement in June 2018.

Under that agreement, the state allegedly allowed O’Donnell, to become the recipient of a considerable amount of public funds even after he acknowledge an unspecified criminal act.

In a separate arraignment in Hudson County this week, Deputy Attorney General John Nicodemo admitted that O’Donnell, has not yet entered a guilty plea and that the attorney general’s office has not notified the state Office of Attorney Ethics.

O’Donnell has agreed to return profits from unlawful actions, but the state doesn’t know how much that is.  He remains an attorney in good standing despite his 31-month-old plea agreement with the state.

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