Montgomery County Commissioner Jim Matthews (pictured here) is charged with perjury. He is accused of lying to a grand jury about the relationship between his family’s mortgage company and a title firm, known as Certified Abstract. The grand jury report said he made misrepresentations on his Statement of Financial Interest, a form that all elected officials are required by law to complete, and he lied about it frequently while under oath, acting as if he were above the law. It said the firm was under contract with the county to do title work, but the grand jury did not find sufficient evidence of an improper relationship.
It found that the Farmland and Open Space Preservation Programs were carelessly run, with no written guidance, and county contracting policies allow favoritism, but those matters did not rise to the level of criminality. It also looked at breakfast meetings with Matthews, Vice Chairman Joe Hoeffel and others, but without Commissioner Bruce Castor, and said they appeared to be improper but there was insufficient evidence to find any violation of the law. Matthews is a 62-year-old Lower Gwynedd resident who says he absolutely did not lie to the grand jury. He has resigned as chairman, but remains on the board.
Montgomery County Commissioners-Elect Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards have issued a statement responding to the grand jury report on Matthews. It says they will give due consideration to its findings and recommendations, and it is clear to them that county government must become more transparent and more responsible. They say Montgomery County deserves the best government in Pennsylvania, and they will work every day to make it so. Shapiro and Richards are the first Democrats to win the majority seats on the county board of commissioners since about the time of the Civil War.