Former Montgomery County Commission chairman Jim Matthews accepted responsibility Tuesday for his actions in connection with a Grand Jury investigation while he was in office.
Matthews was arrested in Dec. 2011 after an 18-month probe into the way in which the county conducted business. Matthews was facing trial on a charge of making a false statement. He denied to Grand Jurors that he had a business relationship with a company that was awarded contracts by the county.
Matthews wrote a letter to District Attorney Risa Vetri-Ferman, asking to spare taxpayers the expense of a trial and allow him instead to enter the Alternative Rehabilitation Disposition (ARD) program. The program is available to first-time, non-violent offenders. In his letter, Matthews wrote:
“I believe I am a good candidate for the ARD program because I have not previously been charged with a crime, I know I present no risk for future charges, and no dout I will successfully complete the program. I further believe ARD is an appropriate disposition of the charge because it will eliminate the need for a costly and time-consuming trial and pre-trial proceedings, which is a stated purpose of ARD. I accept responsibility and apologize for my actions; it is my desire to put this chapter behind me and move forward.“
Ferman agreed to the deal. Matthews will be on probation and pay what Ferman referred to as “significant financial penalties.”
"Our primary goal in this investigation was to expose and eradicate government practices that served the interests of the elected officials and not those they served. I am satisfied that we have accomplished this goal,” said Ferman.
Matthews has to repay the costs of prosecution and make a donation of $12,000 to the Freedoms Foundation of Valley Forge, a non-profit education organization whose mission is to foster civic engagement and increase awareness about the principles of democracy.
Matthews retired at the end of his term. He had resigned as chair of the county commission the day he was arrested, but continued to serve out his term.
He is the brother of Chris Matthews, host of “Hardball” on MSNBC.
Editor’s Note: In an earlier version of the story we incorrectly stated that Jim Matthews admitted guilt on charges of perjury and giving false statements. We apologize for the error.