FLEMINGTON, NJ – The borough may be facing millions of dollars in claims that could be filed by the “Flemington Four.”
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.
Each of the four have filed a notice of tort claim with the borough, Mayor Phil Greiner said today. Such notice is required in advance of any lawsuit being filed.
The criminal matter was first heard in February by Judge Eric Perkins in Flemington Municipal Court, who transferred the case out of his courtroom. After that, the county Prosecutor’s Office was asked to review the charges and Hunterdon County First Assistant Prosecutor Michael J. Williams announced in June that after a “comprehensive review” the charges were dismissed.
The group were also charged by borough Construction Official Jeff Klein with entering a building that was an “unsafe structure.” They were cleared on that charge by the county Construction Board of Appeals in April.
Each of the four charged have a lengthy and unblemished history of local involvement. Giffen is a structural and Professional Engineer. He and Schotland have been active with Friends of Historic Flemington, a group that has argued for “adaptive re-use” of the hotel and sued the borough. Schotland is an engineer who also owns 123 Main St. and has experience with large developments. Raritan Township resident Romanowski was the lender in foreclosure of the Union Hotel at the time the charges were filed.
Eckelman is a general contractor noted for his authentic historic renovations, including the landmark Large House on Main Street here. He is also an attorney.
Greiner said the tort claim notices are essentially identical. The four each claim $1 million in damages to their reputation and $10,000 in legal fees, he said.
The mayor said borough attorney Robert Beckelman will discuss the notices in his attorney’s report at Monday’s Borough Council meeting.