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

O’Donnell sometimes billed towns more than 24 hours in a day for legal fees

State’s cooperating witness in corruption sting has lost most of his public clients

By David Wildstein, January 15 2020 3:53 pm

Attorney Matt O’Donnell, the state’s cooperating witness in a corruption sting operation, sometimes billed municipalities in excess of 24 hours in a single day, according to bills submitted to government entities that were reviewed by the New Jersey Globe.

O’Donnell billed nearly 380 hours in April 2016, records show, including three days where he put in more than 25 hours’ worth of work: 26.3 hours on April 8, 24.7 hours on April 12, and 24.9 hours on April 21.

That same month, there were an additional six days where O’Donnell billed more than 18 hours each day.   Indeed, there was not a single weekday in April 2016 where he billed public entities less than 10 hours.

On the day he billed 26.3 hours, invoices went to Bloomfield, Chatham, East Hanover, East Orange, Hackensack, Irvington, Morristown, Mount Arlington, Wall and West Caldwell.

In most cases O’Donnell signed a cover letter that was attached to his bills seeking payment.

O’Donnell billed East Hanover, where he served as municipal attorney until earlier this month, $1,097,531 in legal fees in 2019, records show.  That comes out to about 6,271 hours – about 120 hours every week for a year representing a township with a little more than 11,000 residents.

Although it’s not clear what caused O’Donnell to become a cooperating witness in the state attorney general’s sting operation that led to bribery charges being filed against five former public officials and candidates, most of his public clients have now dropped him as their lawyer.

He has not been charged with anything.

O’Donnell did not immediately return a voicemail message left at his law firm at 3:21 PM.

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One thought on “O’Donnell sometimes billed towns more than 24 hours in a day for legal fees

  1. He worked for the Township of Middletown, Monmouth County, N.J. The former tax appeal attorney was billing
    $ 100.00 per hour and when he was replaced by O’Donnell firm the billing amount went to $ 160.00 to $ 165.00
    per hour creating a large difference in the cost to defend the County & State tax appeals. I believe similar situation
    occurred in Holmdel, New Jersey as well.

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