Former Jersey City Board of Education President Sudhan Thomas, fighting two separate corruption cases, appeared in Morris County Superior Court this morning without counsel, exactly a month after making his first appearance in federal court on a separate charge.
By Corey McDonald/Hudson County View
His appearance today is part of an ongoing case surrounding criminal conduct alleged by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, who on December 19 charged him with accepting $35,000 in cash bribes in connection to a potential 2021 city council run.
Today’s arraignment comes one month after he pleaded not guilty to a federal charge of embezzling over $45,000 from the Jersey City Employment and Training Program while serving as acting executive director.
Thomas arrived to court 30 minutes late and without legal representation after three other public officials charged in the AG’s sting appeared: ex-Morris County Freeholder John Cesaro, former Mount Arlington Councilman John Windish, and former Morris County Freeholder candidate Mary Dougherty.
His original attorney dropped him as a client after he alleged he owed him more than $25,000 in legal bills.
He told the judge today that “the attorney I almost secured called” last week “and told me there was a conflict. So I have to start all over again.” He used the same excuse during a court appearance last week, Morristown Green reported.
Nevertheless, Morris County Superior Court Assignment Judge Stephen Taylor assigned Thomas a March 24th date for his next appearance.
Thomas, who a year ago was the president of the Jersey City Board of Education and the acting executive director of the city’s employment and training program, is fighting three separate legal cases alleging bribery, embezzlement and financial impropriety.
His legal troubles began in August, when a former accountant with JCETP filed a whistleblower lawsuit against him, alleging she was fired for pointing out financial malfeasance.
“I’m going to be vigorously fighting to defend myself to prove my innocence,” he told reporters today after his hearing.
“I’ve been saying that since December 19 and I’ll continue to say that.”
Thomas did not elaborate on what exactly the conflict was with his potential legal representation, and it is unclear if he has any representation lined up.
“I just want to put together the best legal team possible to be able to do defend me,” he added.
Follow Corey McDonald on Twitter @cwmcdonald_