NJ politician caught in scandal involving bribery charges and seedy strip club
A well-connected Middlesex County political figure has resigned from several positions as he faces bribery charges stemming from a wider investigation in Sayreville.
Detectives caught 72-year-old Thomas Pollando taking several thousands of dollars in cash, saying he would try “to use his political clout to influence an ongoing criminal case,” Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone announced on Thursday.
The alleged bribery happened as the prosecutor’s office was monitoring a Sayreville business during July and August, Cioccone said, without naming which business.
New Jersey Globe has reported that it was Club XXXV, the home base of an alleged family-run prostitution ring — which investigators have said generated millions of dollars in illegal proceeds.
Pollando stepped down Friday as chairman of the Sayreville Democratic Party, vice chairman of the Middlesex County Planning Board, a member of the Sayreville Economic and Redevelopment Authority and from his paid position with the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, according to MyCentralJersey.com, which cited his attorney, Robert Honecker.
Before the report of his resignation, colleagues had urged Pollando to step aside.
"We are deeply troubled by the allegations against Planning Board Member Thomas Pollando,” Middlesex County Board of Commissioners Director Ronald G. Rios said in a written statement, adding "Actions like those alleged are fully unbecoming of anyone in public service."
Pollando, of the Parlin section of Sayreville, also is a former Sayreville Borough council president and was a long-time president of the Sayreville Athletic Association.
He was arrested after leaving the business and was found in possession of the cash, according to Ciccone.
Detectives witnessed the exchange via audio/video surveillance as Pollando said he would use his position to try and influence a Superior Court Judge, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
Pollando was charged with second-degree bribery in official matters and second-degree receipt of unlawful benefit by a public servant for official behavior. He was released the day of the arrest.
Club 35 investigation
In June, a married couple from Freehold and three of their adult children were charged in connection with the alleged long-time prostitution operation out of a ‘nude’ bar in Sayreville, according to prosecutors.
Authorities previously said 58-year-old Anthony Acciardi Sr., 55-year-old Doreen Acciardi and 29-year-old Anthony Acciardi Jr, were each charged with first-degree money laundering, second-degree promoting organized street crime, third-degree promoting prostitution and other criminal offenses.
Angela Mancini, 32, of Colts Neck, was charged with first-degree money laundering and second-degree conspiracy. Mancini is the daughter of Doreen and Anthony Acciardi Sr., the prosecutor's office previously confirmed.
Another of the Acciardis’ grown children, 24-year-old Stephen T. Acciardi, was arrested and charged with similar offenses at the same time in June, though not mentioned publicly in a release by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.
He lives at the same Freehold address as his parents, according to an affidavit of probable cause secured by New Jersey 101.5.
According to the same document, the Acciardi family has generated "significant income" from illegal business dealings based at the club in Sayreville, while also failing to report most of it on state tax returns.