FLEMINGTON, NJ – The “Flemington Four” claim the criminal charges filed against them in January– and which have since been dismissed – were the result of “political retribution.”
The “Flemington Four” are George Eckelman, Richard Giffen, Steve Romanowski and Gary Schotland. The four were charged by police with criminal trespass at the Union Hotel here in January after a video they made inside of the hotel surfaced on Facebook. They say they were in the hotel to assess its condition and determine what repairs might be needed.
TAPinto reported last week that each of the four are contemplating filing $1 million lawsuits.
In their notices of tort claim submitted to the state, the four say the charges filed by police were “at the request and instigation” of borough Building Inspector Jeff Klein.
The intent of the charges was “to stifle and suppress my free speech and expression of my opinions regarding the Union Hotel,” the notices state.
Chief of Police Jerry Rotella “effectively ordered” the removal of social media posts about the hotel and “refused to review documents” which supported their claims that they had “legal right of access” to the historic structure, according to the claims.
The criminal charges were dismissed in May by Hunterdon County Prosecutor Anthony P. Kearns, III.
Klein himself filed a complaint against the four charging them with entering a building that was an “unsafe structure.” The county Construction Board of Appeals cleared them on that charge in April.
Actions by police and municipal officials “constituted malicious prosecution, abuse of process and harassment,” the four claim, and it resulted in public embarrassment and humiliation.
Named in the notice are Klein, Mayor Phil Greiner, Det. Robert Godown, former Councilperson Brian Swingle and Councilperson Brooke (Liebowitz) Warden.
The mayor has previously stated that the matter had nothing to do with Borough Council and was “strictly a law enforcement matter.”