Law & Justice

Lieutenant Found Guilty in Ongoing Legal Battle with Borough of Caldwell


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

Police Blotter

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.

Rutgers voices support for proposed state budget

March 14, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK - Rutgers University officials have often been wary of the governor's annual budget message, wondering what type of budget cuts the university may sustain and how it would potentially impact tuition and the overall quality of education.

This budget message, delivered March 13, appears to be a sigh of relief.

Pete McDonough, Vice President of External Affairs at ...

Middlesex Democrats Endorse Menendez, Pallone, Watson Coleman, Rios and Narra

METUCHEN - The Middlesex County Democratic Organization today endorsed Robert Menendez for Senate, Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Freeholder Director Ronald Rios and Freeholder Shanti Narra for the Board of Chosen Freeholders.  Over 300 committee people came out to participate in the convention. 

“From Washington to New ...

Nationally Recognized Golf Management Firm Billy Casper Golf to Oversee Three Middlesex County Golf Courses

CRANBURY - The Middlesex County Improvement Authority (MCIA) has selected innovative golf management firm Billy Casper Golf (BCG) to manage clubhouse operations at Middlesex County’s three golf courses in north central New Jersey.

One of the largest privately-owned golf course management companies in the U.S., BCG will use its proprietary staff training, marketing and other ...

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Random House, 1965)


In Cold Blood is, quite simply, the grand-daddy of true crime writing, dubbed by Capote, himself, as the first non-fiction novel (although Norman Mailer argued the point when he published The Executioner's Song in 1979.) The conditions under which I read In Cold Blood for the first time were pretty weird, which was another ...

Ian Hockley Visits New Jersey to Introduce Program to Empower Youth

This week I am taking a departure from book reviewing to share an important program that has been introduced to New Jersey this week by Mr. Ian Hockley, founder of the Dylan's Wings of Change Foundation. On December 14, 2012, Hockley's five year old son, an autistic child named Dylan, was gunned down in his classroom in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Dylan, a shy and adorable ...


March 16, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 16, 2018 – Despite her rhetoric, U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-12, failed Wednesday to deliver on her promise to make schools safer for our children.

The two-term congressperson was one of only 10 representatives that voted “nay” Wednesday afternoon on the STOP School Violence Act of 2018.

The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives on a ...

Republican congressional candidate Daryl Kipnis For Congress Campaign Kickoff Reception

Come enjoy an evening on Farrington Lake in North Brunswick in support of the effort to elect Daryl in NJ’s 12th Congressional District and send A Force For Freedom to Washington.

*Dinner & Open Bar*

7-9 p.m.

Monday, April 9th, 2018
130 Washington Place
North Brunswick, 08902

$100 Ticket Price
$250 Silver Sponsor
$500 Gold Sponsor
$1,000 Platinum Sponsor
$2,700 ...

Celebrate National Ag Day at the Middlesex County EARTH Center

EARTH CENTER, NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ - Consider this: just about everything we eat, wear and use comes from agriculture. That is why America’s farmers and their crops are celebrated each year on National Ag Day, which falls this year on March 20.


To honor this day, the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County has planned a new seminar entitled The State of ...