The former president of the Jersey City Board of Education (JCBOED), Acting Executive Director of the Jersey City Employment and Training Program (JCETP) and Fulop ally Sudhan M. Thomas, 45, was indicted today for embezzlement, money laundering, and fraud according to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito. Attorney Paul H. Appel, 78, of Point Pleasant, New Jersey, also is charged as Thomas’ accomplice in several counts of the indictment.
The 26-count indictment charges Thomas with embezzling funds from JCETP, wire fraud and money laundering in connection with the the JCETP. Thomas was also charged with wire fraud for embezzling money from his 2016 and 2019 JCBOED campaigns; bank fraud for stealing checks issued by and to another JCBOED candidate’s campaign in 2018; and mail and wire fraud for schemes to defraud two separate Florida companies.
Thomas served as JCETP’s acting executive director from January 2019 until his resignation in July 2019. JCETP is a nonprofit organization that operates to assist Jersey City residents to prepare for and enter the workforce. JCETP received substantial amounts of funding from federal grants from the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Last year, Thomas was charged by state authorities with accepting $35,000 in bribes and agreeing to hire a law firm to represent the Jersey City school district in real estate matters. At the time Thomas asserted his innocence and blamed the investigation on his role taking over the JCETP from former governor Jim McGreevey.
The indictment alleges that, using his access to JCETP funds and control of JCETP’s bank accounts, from March 2019 through July 2019, Thomas embezzled more than $45,000 from JCETP. It further alleges that Thomas caused checks to be drawn from JCETP accounts that were made payable to others, but ultimately received by Thomas or used to pay his debts and expenses. Thomas is accused of having checks sent to Appel, who then redirected the funds to Thomas and Next Glocal, an entity for which Thomas was a director. The indictment alleges that the funds ultimately were deposited into a bank account for Thomas’ personal use. Thomas also allegedly embezzled JCETP funds by issuing JCETP checks made out to cash that Thomas routed to himself.
Thomas ran for and was elected to a seat on the JCBOED in 2016, ultimately serving as vice president and then president of the JCBOED. Appel served as treasurer for Thomas’s 2016 campaign. From September 2016 to November 2016, Thomas and Appel collected campaign contributions and deposited them into a bank account opened for the 2016 campaign that they both controlled. Under the guise of collecting repayments for loans to the campaign or reimbursement for other purported campaign-related expenses, the two allegedly embezzled more than $8,000 from Thomas’s 2016 campaign for their own personal use.
Thomas ran for re-election to the JCBOED in 2019. From June 2018 to August 2019, he collected campaign contributions and deposited them into two bank accounts opened for the 2019 campaign. Under the guise of collecting repayments for loans to the campaign, he allegedly embezzled approximately $6,000 from the 2019 campaign by causing checks to be issued from the campaign bank accounts made payable to himself, and then cashed those checks or deposited them into a bank account for his personal use.
In November 2018, Thomas informally advised a candidate in the 2018 JCBOED election. He allegedly solicited payment for non-existent expenses and diverted such monies to his personal use. In 2016, Thomas and Appel allegedly entered into an agreement with a Florida-based technology company and induced the company to wire them a total of $48,500. The indictment states that the two ultimately diverted the company’s funds to their own bank accounts and used them to pay personal expenses (including payments to Thomas’s landlord, tuition for Thomas’s relative, and payments for Appel’s credit and debit card expenses) without providing any meaningful services or generating any business as required under the agreement, or spending any substantial parts of the funds provided by the technology company towards fulfillment of the agreement.
In 2016, Thomas and Appel entered into another agreement with a Florida-based housing company in connection with the purported sale of modular homes to veterans and the homeless. The housing company made five $2,000 payments to to the two between November 2016 and March 2017. Thomas and Appel allegedly misappropriated the funds without providing any meaningful services or generating any business as required under the agreement, or spending any substantial part of the funds towards fulfillment of the agreement.