Home>Highlight>Sayreville Democratic leader charged for soliciting bribe to influence strip club investigation

Sayreville Democratic Municipal Chairman Thomas Pollando. (Photo: Thomas Pollando/Facebook).

Sayreville Democratic leader charged for soliciting bribe to influence strip club investigation

Thomas Pollando charged with two counts of bribery connected to investigation into money laundering, prostitution ring; McCabe seeks resignation

By David Wildstein, September 01 2022 5:32 pm

Update: Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone announced Pollando’s arrest at 6:45 PM.    Middlesex County Democratic Chairman Kevin McCabe called for the resignation of Pollando at 7:54 PM.  

Thomas V. Pollando, the Sayreville Democratic municipal chairman and a former councilman, has been arrested on bribery charges connected to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s investigation into a local strip club, the New Jersey Globe has confirmed.

As part of the probe of XXXV Gentlemen’s Club (Club 35), which was charged with money laundering and promoting prostitution in June, investigators learned that Pollando had offered to exert influence on how that case might go in exchange for a cash payment.

“Over a several week period in July and August 2022, Detectives from the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office were conducting electronic surveillance of a business in Sayreville,” the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s office said in a statement.  “While conducting surveillance, detectives observed Pollando accept several thousands of dollars in cash, and state that he would attempt to use his political clout to influence an ongoing criminal case.”

The 72-year-old Pollando was arrested on a summons earlier today.  He’s accused of second degree bribery and receipt of an unlawful benefit by a public servant for official misbehavior.

According the prosecutor’s office, Pollando was arrested and “was found in possession of the cash payment”

In addition to his party post, Pollando serves on the Middlesex County Planning Board and the Sayreville Economic and Redevelopment Agency.  He also holds a $70,955-per-year state job at the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.

Several employees of the family-owned Club 35 were charged with money laundering and promoting prostitution in June.  Prosecutors are seeking the forfeiture of more than $3.5 million in assets, including almost $700,000 in gold and silver coins, from the club’s owners

Pollando was elected to the Sayreville Borough Council in 2001 and 2004, served as council president, and unsuccessfully challenged Republican Mayor Kennedy O’Brien in 2007.   He sought a return to the council in 2009 but lost by roughly 1,100 votes.

The criminal charges against Pollando come just two months before an election that could determine majority control of local government in a municipality where campaigns are enormously competitive.

Two incumbents, Democrat Michelle Cassidy Maher and Republican Donna Roberts, are seeking re-election.  Each party controls three council seats and Sayreville has a Democratic mayor, Victoria Kilpatrick.  She was elected in 2019 by three votes after the Republican mayor retired after 20 years in office.

Middlesex County Democratic Chairman Kevin McCabe has called on Pollando to resign.

“The conduct alleged against Tom Pollando is wholly unacceptable. As such, I am demanding his immediate resignation from his position as Chair of the Sayreville Democratic Organization,” McCabe said.  ” Furthermore, I am requesting a full accounting of the finances of the Sayreville Democratic Organization in order to determine any further possible financial malfeasance. As leaders, we must hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards, and we will continue to have zero tolerance for corruption.”

Jack Ciattarelli carried Sayreville against Gov. Phil Murphy by more than seven percentage points in 2021, and Joe Biden won it by six point two years ago.

This story was updated at 6:51 PM with comment from the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and at 7:56 PM with comment from McCabe.

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