Former Morris County freeholder candidate Mary Dougherty pleaded guilty to a charge of filing a false report with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC), according to Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal.
The false report was made in connection with an illegal $10,000 campaign contribution she received and connected to a larger corruption probe resulting in four indictments against public officials and political candidates announced by Grewal Feb. 16.
Under the guilty plea for the fourth-degree crime, Dougherty will be sentenced to a period of non-custodial probation to be determined by the court, and she will forfeit the $10,000 she received.
Dougherty admitted that during her unsuccessful run for Morris County freeholder in 2018, she received the $10,000 cash contribution from a cooperating witness, but then asked the witness to issue her four checks.
Each of the four checks were to be under the $2,600 individual limit for contributions per election per candidate. Dougherty accepted the check despite knowing four $2,500 checks were in fact from the same cooperating witness despite the checks being made out in the names of different individuals.
Additionally, Doughterty further admitted that when she filed a required form with ELEC, she falsified the information concerning these specific “donors”
Under New Jersey election law, it is illegal for a person to provide money to another person in order that they may donate the funds to a candidate, thus circumventing the $2,600 donation limit.
Concluding 2018 OPIA Investigation
Dougherty was one of five defendants charged by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) Corruption Bureau in 2018. The investigation focused on Hudson and Morris county political figures who allegedly solicited illegal campaign contributions.
The other four defendants included:
- Former Jersey City School Board President Sudhan Thomas;
- Former State Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell;
- Former Morris County Freeholder John Cesaro;
- and former Mount Arlington Council Member John Windish.
The other four individuals were indicted within the past month by a state grand jury on second-degree bribery charges, with all but O’Donnell charged with second-degree official misconduct.
“The conduct alleged in these indictments is old-school political corruption at its worst—the kind that erodes public faith in government and that we are determined to root out,” said Grewal on Feb. 16.