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

O’Donnell law firm closing next week

Three attorneys move to Antonelli Kantor

By David Wildstein, January 22 2020 9:09 pm

Matt O’Donnell’s law firm, O’Donnell McCord, will shut down at the end of next week, the New Jersey Globe has learned.

O’Donnell is the central figure in a sting operation that has led to bribery charges against five officials.

Sources have told the Globe that staff has been shredding certain documents in recent days, although the content of those records is not immediately clear.

O’Donnell did not respond to an 8:40 PM e-mail seeking comment.

Three highly regarded attorneys with no connection to the issues that have led to the firm’s demise — Brian Frankoski, Jason Cherchia and Lori Reynolds – are joining Antonelli Kantor, a politically active North Jersey firm.  They will work out of the firm’s Union office.

O’Donnell’s law partner, Elizabeth Valandingham, was not hired by the firm.  Numerous straw donors used to funnel money to local candidates where O’Donnell McCord served as tax appeal counsel are directly tied to Valandingham.

The New Jersey Globe reported this week that Joseph Bock, a newly-elected Boonton alderman, has taken a job at Spiotti & Associates, a tax appeal firm run by Robert Spiotti.

O’Donnell McCord has lost a considerable amount of legal work over the last few weeks after word spread that he has been working with the state attorney general’s office as a cooperating witness.

Sources have told the Globe that O’Donnell continues to represent East Hanover on a holdover capacity.  Although O’Donnell, billed the township of 11,157 residents over $1.1 million in 2019, it’s not immediately clear how much he will bill for January 2020.

State fair and open contract laws limit contracts not put out for public bid at $17,500.

Jersey City, where O’Donnell served as tax appeal counsel until being fired in 2018, has been attempting to conduct an audit of their legal bills, the Globe has learned, but O’Donnell McCord has refused to cooperate.

O’Donnell was ousted in Jersey City around that same time that mayor Steven Fulop hired  former deputy state attorney general Peter Baker as the Jersey City Corporation Counsel.

An anonymous whistleblower contacted Baker’s office, then known as the Official Corruption Bureau, around June 2017 and O’Donnell became a cooperating witness  sometime that year.

Baker has declined comment on questions regarding the connection between O’Donnell becoming a cooperating witness and his termination in Jersey City.

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