NEWARK, NJ - Elias Chalet, First Ward Councilman of the Township of Bloomfield, entered a guilty plea to bribery charges Tuesday morning in Essex County Superior Court. The plea was made before Superior Court Judge Martin Cronin.
Chalet pleaded guilty to second-degree bribery in official of political matters. According to attorney Peter W. Tillman of Springfield, the other four charges were dropped as part of the plea. The prosecutor’s dropped charges of second-degree official misconduct, second-degree acceptance or receipt of unlawful benefit by a public servant for official behavior, fourth-degree tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, and fourth-degree hindering apprehension or prosecution.
Attorney Tillman presented a $15,000 check to Deputy Prosecutor Brian Faulk for restitution. “Mr.Chalet felt very strongly about the act of handing over a check at the time of entering the plea.” Tillman said.
Chalet admitted to the court to taking $10,000 on Oct. 9, 2015 and $5,000 on Nov. 16, 2015. Speaking to the judge, he said, “I knew that it was a violation to take the money.”
Chalet was indicted by a grand jury on January 29, 2016 for soliciting the bribes. At the time, he was formally accused of promising a business owner that he would use his place on the Bloomfield Township Council to ensure that Bloomfield would continue its planned purchase of a commercial property.
Tillman made a recommendation to the court concerning Chalet’s medical difficulties be checked over by a state expert. On January 20 of this year, Attorney Till presented Chalet's medical records in a management conference with State prosecutors. , While the content of the medical records was not disclosed, Chalet had open heart surgery in April of 2016. Hon. Martin G. Cronin presided over the conference.
At the time of entering the plea, Tillman provided a document of Forfeiture that is official for Chalet’s resignation today from his Bloomfield Township Council seat. Chalet will be wearing a monitor over the next three years according to Tillman. Chalet maintained his council seat representing the First Ward of Bloomfield throughout the case. His term was to expire this year, earlier this year he stated that he would not run for re-election. Newcomer Jenny Mundell filed a petition to run as a Democrat for that seat, Former Bloomfield Councilman David Tucker filed a petition to run as a Republican.
Chalet’s sentencing is July 10 and faces five years in prison with eligibility for parole after two years.