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

Mount Arlington dumps O’Donnell as municipal attorney

Cooperating witness in state corruption probe continues to lose clients

By David Wildstein, January 02 2020 10:08 am

Mount Arlington will drop Matthew O’Donnell, the cooperating witness in a state corruption sting, as the municipal attorney.

Mayor Michael Stanzilis told the New Jersey Globe that he will not submit O’Donnell’s name to the council for reappointment when they reorganize tonight.

Among the five former officials and candidates charged with bribery by state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal was John Windish, a former Republican councilman from Mount Arlington.

Grewal alleged that Windish took $7,000 in cash in an envelope in exchange for supporting O’Donnell’s reappointment.

According to the attorney general’s office, when the cash was delivered, the cooperating witness – now known to have been O’Donnell – told Windish: “I need you to, I need your commit that I’m your borough attorney and I need more work, John.”

“You got it,” Windish replied.

Straw donors connected to O’Donnell have contributed approximately $16,000 to Republican candidates in Mount Arlington.

Stanzilis will instead ask the council to confirm his choice of McManimon, Scotland & Baumann, a prominent New Jersey Law firm.

Officials in six other municipalities and in Monmouth County have indicated that they are removing O’Donnell’s firm, O’Donnell McCord, as the tax appeals counsel.

The West Caldwell Township Council declined to appoint anyone as tax appeals counsel or public defender – the two posts O’Donnell held – at their reorganization meeting on Wednesday.

Mayor Joseph Tempesta is one of O’Donnell’s closest friends and has received more than $8,000 from straw donors directly tied to O’Donnell.

In East Hanover, where Tempesta is the township administrator, an agenda for this week’s reorganization meeting includes the reappointment of O’Donnell as municipal attorney.

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