Law & Justice

Lieutenant Found Guilty in Ongoing Legal Battle with Borough of Caldwell

a1c87d51de1f78666aa3_Screen_Shot_2017-06-01_at_4.29.45_PM.jpg
a1c87d51de1f78666aa3_Screen_Shot_2017-06-01_at_4.29.45_PM.jpg

CALDWELL, NJ — In an ongoing lawsuit between Caldwell Lt. Michael Geary and the Borough of Caldwell, which recommended a suspension of 36 hours for insubordination and conduct unbecoming of a superior officer, Lt. Geary was found guilty of these charges on Tuesday by Hearing Officer Raymond Hayducka.

In August 2016, Caldwell Chief of Police James Bongiorno and Detective Sgt. Brad Palatucci served paperwork related to an ongoing internal affairs investigation to Geary, which resulted in a failed “fitness for duty” exam. When ordered to surrender his department-issued badge, identification and key fob, Geary said “no” and told Bongiorno that if he wanted these items, he would have to retrieve them himself—resulting in the insubordination charge.

The departmental charges with the recommended penalty of 36 hours were served to Lt. Geary on Jan. 12, 2017. At the time, Geary stated that he believed these charges were served in retaliation for his filing an official notice of intent to sue both the chief and the borough in August 2016 for discrimination among other wrongful acts. (See story HERE.)

Sign Up for E-News

Following the decision announced by Hayducka, who is also the Chief of Police in South Brunswick, Geary said he would move forward with the civil lawsuit.

“We fully expected that another Chief of Police, hired and paid by the town who brought the absurd charge against me, would rule the way he did,” said Geary. “The sworn evidence adduced at the hearing was apparently irrelevant to him.”

Geary said his intention is now to appeal the decision to the Superior Court, where he believes he will “more than likely be fully exonerated.”

“Simultaneously, we will file my civil lawsuit,” he said. “It’s game on now.”

Based on Tuesday’s decision, Geary’s attorney, Patrick Toscano, said there is good cause to believe that Hayducka is a member of the same organization that Bongiorno belongs to—The New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police (NJSACOP).

“This was unknown prior to the decision/ruling in this Internal Affairs trial, and never revealed at any time by either the Hearing Officer or Mr. Bongiorno,” he said. “An email to the Hearing Officer in this regard has not been responded to. Moreover, Caldwell never advised Lt. Geary or our law firm of such.”

Toscano added that there is also valid reason to believe that Hayducka and Bongiorno have “known one another for years prior to the Hearing Officer’s hiring by Caldwell” and that this was never revealed to his law office.

“If we ascertain with 100-percent certainty that the above is in fact the case, it is beyond cavil to state that the Hearing Officer had a clear conflict/appearance of impropriety, and should have never accepted this assignment from Caldwell,” said Toscano. “Additionally, if Mr. Bongiorno was the person responsible for recommending the Hearing Officer in this case, we consider same to be reprehensible, and will deal with that issue in Lt. Geary’s soon-to-be-filed civil lawsuit.”

Hayducka’s final analysis of evidence and summary stated the following:

“A commanding officer with approximately 14 years of service should understand that a request or direct order must be followed. Ironically, Lt. Geary acknowledges in his testimony he must comply with the direction of the Chief of Police regardless if it is an order. He simply failed to do so. There was never an explanation or respectful request to turn the items over in a different manner. There was clear defiance and he demanded that they come to his vehicle to get the items. In my opinion, Lt. Geary was clearly insubordinate.”

Attempts to reach out to Bongiorno for comment have not yet been returned. Caldwell Mayor Ann Dassing also declined to comment. 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

South Brunswick-Cranbury

South Brunswick and Cranbury Police Blotter

August 9, 2017

Sponsored by Reilly's Collision Center in Monmouth Junction. Click here and scroll down for the latest updates and alerts from South Brunswick and Cranbury Police.

See the most recent messages from South Brunswick Twp Police Department, powered by Nixle.

Edison Police Seek Help Finding Missing 14-Year-Old

June 22, 2018

EDISON, NJ - A 14-year-old Edison girl who ran away from home on May 3 has yet to be found and police are asking anyone with information about  to come forward.

Edison detectives are leading a statewide search for the girl, Jalaysia Staplar-Evans. They said they believe she could be staying with friends or acquaintances in Newark or the Essex County area, said Edison Police Lt. Robert ...

Rutgers Takes Over New Brunswick Police Dispatch Service

NEW BRUNSWICK - Rutgers University will provide the city’s police dispatching services in a move that New Brunswick says will cut costs and put an end to dispatcher shortages that resulted in officers doing the job.

The city’s 12 current dispatchers will be laid off at the end of the day on June 30, and Rutgers will supply dispatchers as of July 1 under an agreement that city ...

New Brunswick Civic League Leader Still Looking for New Challenges After 48 Years at Helm

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - After 48 years of leading the charge for change in New Brunswick, Dr. C. Roy Epps can still be found quietly working on weekends in The Civic League of Greater New Brunswick offices.

The tireless commitment of the 77-year-old President and CEO of this non-profit has helped provide residents access to a variety of health, housing and education services over the ...

More than the Fourth of July, Make it a Star Spangled Week in the Long Beach Island Region of NJ

June 20, 2018

STAFFORD AND LONG BEACH ISLAND - Summer 2018 starts now, so time to enjoy the beauty of the Jersey Shore. As families and friends gather for the summer holiday, there is plenty of options to assist in rounding out July 4 vacation and getaways.

With July 4 falling on a Wednesday, there are many events surrounding the holiday.

The award winning Surf and Sip Brew Trail itinerary is available ...

Applications to Rutgers Jumps Nearly 10 Percent; Increase from Out-of-State Students

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Applications to Rutgers University this year increased 9.4 percent over last year, university President Robert Barchi told the Board of Governors at a meeting this week.

The university received nearly 45,000 applications this year, Barchi said.

That included a 20 percent increase in the number of students from out-side New Jersey applying to Rutgers, the university ...

Susan G. Komen North Jersey Increases Program Funding by 15% for 2018-2019 and Awards 13 Grants to 11 Local Community Non-Profit Organizations

June 21, 2018

 

Susan G. Komen North Jersey announced that it will award a total of 13 grants to 11 local community non-profit organizations in its nine-county service area for 2018-2019, with an increase in total program funding at 15% year over year. Since its founding in 1997, Komen North Jersey has awarded nearly $19 million to local community programs in nine North Jersey counties and has directed ...

The ESCNJ Offers Innovative Software To Strengthen School Transportation

   New software promising greater speed and efficiency for school transportation departments is now available through the Educational Services Commission of New Jersey (ESCNJ).

   The software is the result of a two year collaboration between the Princeton based Artha Systems, an international supplier of business management software, and the ESCNJ.

“The software ...

Watson Coleman Introduces Resolution Acknowledging the Failures of the War on Drugs

As the House prepares to vote on more than 20 bills aimed at fighting the opioid epidemic over the next two weeks, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) announced a resolution that seeks parity in the treatment of drug use and addiction and a formal apology for the War on Drugs. H.Res. 933 expresses the sense of Congress that the War on Drugs failed, and calls out the disparate treatment of ...

Small Business Ownership vs. Entrepreneurship

Written by: Samuel K. Burlum, Investigative Reporter and author of The Green Lane, a syndicated column, Published on 6/18/2018

Tags: Business, Community, Crowdfunding, Economy, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Small Business

Source: So, which are you – a Small Business Owner or an Entrepreneur? We compare the similarities and differences between the two, so you can ...