Law & Justice

City approves legal bill in political retribution suit

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New Brunswick opened a sixth housing complex with supportive services. Credits: City of New Brunswick
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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - A week after the city reached a settlement with a former police lieutenant, the city council approved more funds for legal representation in another case, of business administrator Thomas Loughlin, in a suit that stretches back to 2012.

Three African American police officers, Arthur Anderson, Maurice Finney and Tony Ingram, filed suit against the city and several officials in 2012.

They alleged that they were being punished for not supporting a so-called “political machine” by Mayor James Cahill, who was listed in the suit along with Loughlin and New Brunswick Police Director Tony Caputo.

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“As part and parcel of the political patronage system which infects the police department and possibly the whole city government, political favoritism and punishment of the disloyal have been a predominant theme in the operation of the New Brunswick Police Department for many years,” the suit reads.  

These ​alleged ​punishments came in the form of the three being passed over for promotions and frequently given undesirable assignments, such as crossing guard duty, according to the suit.

The three were patrolmen when the suit was filed, but Finney was later promoted to sergeant, while Anderson has since retired.

During a July 5 city council meeting, Loughlin referred to the allegations as a “fairy tale” by the three officers.

“As if I care what people’s political beliefs are, out of 750 employees, I chose to select three people to impose my will on because of their political beliefs,” Loughlin said. “I don’t even know what their political beliefs are. One of the individuals I’ve never met before.”

Loughlin is being represented by Christopher D. Adams of the law firm Adams Buchan & Palo. The December 6 resolution brings the legal bill up to $35,408.47.

That resolution authorizes the firm to charge $250 an hour, plus any expenses the firm incurs while doing work for the city.

The move comes a week after the city reached a $172,000 settlement with former police lieutenant Steve Middleton in a separate case against the city and several officials.

Middleton alleged racial discrimination by his superiors, which resulted in him being frequently harassed, subject to stricter punishment than his white coworkers and frequently passed over for assignments.

During his one hour of testimony, Middleton referenced the suit by Anderson, Ingram and Finney, suggesting that their plight was due to their race.

Attorneys for the city objected, saying that Middleton’s suit was a racial discrimination case, entirely different from the other officer’s suit, an employment case.

Loughlin, at the city council meeting, reiterated that the two cases were entirely separate; one was about race while the other was about employment issues.

“The complaint deals with political retribution,” Loughlin said. “While no one’s proud of either of the lawsuits, I think that distinction should be made.”

A city spokesperson declined to comment on the case since it is pending litigation. 

With Middleton’s settlement, the city’s attorneys said they were worried the jury might be tainted by testimony about the the three officers case, and were on the verge of calling for a mistrial.

They reached a settlement instead, rather than opt for the potential of a lengthy and costly court battle.

Editor Daniel J. Munoz, dmunoz@tapinto.nettwitter.com/DanielMunoz100

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