Former JCBOE President & Former JCETP Acting Executive Director Sudan Thomas Confesses to Embezzlement and Fraud

47-year old Sudhan Thomas, the former president of the Jersey City Board of Education (JCBOED) and former acting executive director of the Jersey City Employment and Training Program (JCETP), admitted Wednesday to embezzling JCETP funds and committing wire fraud in connection with his use of funds from his 2016 JCBOED campaign account.

According to U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger, Thomas pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini to two counts of an indictment charging him with embezzling funds from JCETP, an organization that received federal funds, and wire fraud for embezzling money from his 2016 JCBOED campaign.

Thomas served as JCETP’s acting executive director from January 2019 until his resignation in July 2019.  The JCETP, a nonprofit organization that operated to assist Jersey City residents to prepare for and enter the workforce, 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.

A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office stated, “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. 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 embezzled JCETP funds by issuing JCETP checks made out to cash that Thomas either cashed himself or used to obtain bank checks that he made payable to Next Glocal, an entity for which Thomas was a director, which were deposited into a bank account for his personal use.”

Thomas was elected to the JCBOED in 2016.  He was vice president and then president of the Board.  Between September 2016 and November 2016, Thomas collected campaign contributions and deposited into a bank account opened for the 2016 campaign, which he controlled.  Under the guise of collecting repayments for loans to the campaign or reimbursement for other purported campaign-related expenses, Thomas embezzled more than $8,000 from his 2016 campaign for his own personal use., according to Sellinger.

This shocking revelation serves as a stark reminder that even individuals who were once held in high esteem can succumb to temptation and engage in illicit activities. It underscores the importance of transparency, accountability, and robust systems of checks and balances within organizations to prevent and detect fraudulent behavior.

The news of Sudan Thomas’s admission has undoubtedly sent shockwaves through both the business and educational worlds, prompting a critical reevaluation of trust and accountability. It serves as a reminder that the actions of a single individual can have far-reaching consequences, highlighting the need for enhanced diligence and vigilance in financial matters.

According to Sellinger, the embezzlement charge is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison. The wire fraud charge is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison. Both charges carry a maximum fine of up to $250,000. Thomas is scheduled to be sentenced on November 1, 2023.

He originally was charged by indictment in November 2020 with 81-year old Paul Appel of Point Pleasant, who is an attorney and who also served as treasurer for Thomas’ 2016 campaign.  Appel’s case is pending before Judge Martini, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

As the legal process unfolds, the affected stakeholders and the wider public will be watching closely, hoping for justice to be served and for measures to be put in place to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. The fallout from Thomas’s confession will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on the business community, as it serves as a wake-up call to reassess ethical practices and restore faith in the integrity of financial systems.

Sellinger credited special agents with the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark, and special agents of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, New York Region, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Mellone, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elaine K. Lou, Chief of the Opioid Abuse Prevention and Enforcement Unit of the Criminal Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine J. Calle of the Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.