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Attorney Matthew O'Donnell, the state's cooperating witness in a public corruption sting operation.

Irvington sticking with O’Donnell

Law firm of cooperating witness has lost at least seven clients in ten days

By David Wildstein, December 31 2019 11:11 am

Matt O’Donnell will hold on to his legal services contract in Irvington, at least for now.

“At this point we haven’t gotten any information that he’s been charged,” said Ramon Rivera, the town attorney.

O’Donnell, the state’s cooperating witness in a political corruption sting, is Irvington’s tax appeal counsel.

Officials in six municipalities and one county have indicated that they are dropping O’Donnell’s firm next year, but he’ll be reappointed as the township attorney in East Hanover and as tax appeal counsel in West Caldwell.

Irvington Mayor Tony Vauss said he is monitoring news about O’Donnell.

“How do we void a legal contact if he hasn’t been charged with anything?” Vauss asked.

Irvington holds non-partisan May elections and reorganizes in July, which mean O’Donnell’s contract is not up until next summer.

O’Donnell has been a cooperating witness for the state attorney general’s office for about 2.5 years, the New Jersey Globe learned ten days ago.

Around that time, an anonymous whistleblower contacted deputy state attorney general Anthony Picione with information that O’Donnell was using straw donors to funnel money into political campaigns connected with his bid to represent government entities on tax appeal cases.

Picione is currently counsel to the director of the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability, which handled the investigations into the five bribery prosecutions that were announced by Attorney General Gurbir Grewal on December 20.

Records show that Christopher Brown, a West Caldwell electrician who is the brother-in-law of O’Donnell’s law partner, Elizabeth Valandingham, contributed $5,000 to Irvington candidates in 2014.

Brown and his wife, Vanessa Valandingham Brown, have contributed over $107,000 to candidates in municipalities where O’Donnell had legal work.

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