Former Jersey City Board of Education President Sudhan Thomas pleaded not guilty this week after being indicted by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office for allegedly soliciting $35,000 in cash bribes from a cooperating witness.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Thomas, 45, was arraigned before Morris County Superior Court Judge Stephen Taylor on Monday and entered a not guilty plea.
Thomas faces a four-count indictment accusing him of official misconduct, a pattern of official misconduct, bribery in official and political matters, and acceptance or receipt of unlawful benefit by a public servant for official behavior.
Also at the hearing, the state placed their initial post-indictment plea offer on the table: in exchange for Thomas’ guilty plea to second-degree official misconduct, the state would recommend five years in state prison without the possibility of parole.
Furthermore, he would forfeit $10,000 worth of illicit proceeds, face a lifetime ban on public employment, and forfeit his pension.
Thomas is represented by Matthew Troiano, a former Morris County chief assistant prosecutor, and his initial case disposition conference currently is scheduled for May 3 before Taylor.
He was previously charged by complaint-summons in December 2019, where Attorney General Gurbir Grewal first alleged that Thomas was preparing to run for Jersey City councilman in 2021 at the time of his conduct.
He was charged with accepting $35,000 in cash bribes from a cooperating witness, $10,000 delivered on one date and $25,000 delivered a second date, who has since been identified as Matt O’Donnell.
Back in January 2018, only HCV reported that Thomas had opened a new account with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, though said the notion he was prepping for a council run was “fake news.”
Thomas allegedly agreed, in return for the cash payments, to arrange for the cooperating witness to be hired as a special counsel for the Jersey City BOE – back when he was still the president of the board.
Four others were indicted last month, including former Bayonne Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell (no relation to Matt O’Donnell), though he is only facing one count for alleged bribery in official and political matters.
This AG’s case is just the beginning of Thomas’ legal woes: he is also staring down a 26-count indictment from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for allegedly engaging in embezzlement, money laundering, and fraud while serving as the acting executive director of the Jersey City Employment and Training Program.