News from Nearby

Fallout Continues from Lawsuit Against Mountainside; Police Chief on Administrative Leave

d7759aa54902d90a662e_mountainside.jpg
d7759aa54902d90a662e_mountainside.jpg

MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ – Police Chief Allan Attanasio is the latest member of the police department to suffer repercussions from a complaint filed against the borough on May 11.  Attanasio, who is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, was “placed on administrative leave,” on Thursday by Borough Administrator and former Police Chief James Debbie, said  Lt. Joseph Giannuzzi, who was named officer in charge of the department. 

Two other police officers, Lt. Thomas Murphy and Detective Sgt. Andrew Huber, were placed on “an administrative leave of absence,” according to a post on the borough’s website and reported by TAPinto Mountainside here

The lawsuit against the borough alleges salacious, demeaning, and potentially dangerous behavior by long-time police officers, including at least one police chief in the Mountainside department.  While the only defendant in the suit at this time is the borough, the lawsuit describes numerous bad acts by Debbie, Attanasio, Huber, Murphy,  Mountainside Mayor Paul Mirabelli and Mountainside Councilman Keith Turner.

Sign Up for E-News

The lawsuit, which was filed on May 11 by five Mountainside Police Officers Jeffrey Stinner, Christopher Feighner, Richard Latargia, Thomas Norton, James Urban and part-time dispatcher Amy Coliner, has gone viral, both in print papers nationwide, on the web and on social media, since TAPinto Mountainside first reported on the story on Tuesday morning May 15. It has rattled the town and its residents, many of whom have posted comments and taken a public stance on whether the police should be supported, or not, on local social media sites.

The attorney who filed the suit, Charles J. Sciarra, of Sciarra & Catrambone, LLC was unavailable for comment, but has issued a statement on the lawsuit. “The filed complaint was thoroughly vetted before drafting, was filed in accordance with the laws of the state, and speaks for itself,” the statement reads. As for the allegations within the complaint, there would be no comment, he said.

He did have a comment on the statement posted on the Mountainside website by the governing body and referred to a YouTube video of the Jan. 17, 2017 meeting of the council.

The video, which is an official recording of the meeting, shows Westfield attorney Joshua F. McMahon's appearance before the council. Beginning at about 10:38 on the video, McMahon said to the council he wanted to tell them about “pervasive and systemic problems you have in your police department.”

He had a laptop computer with him and offered to show the council the “alleged evidence” of this misconduct and was shut down by the mayor, who said, “Report it to the Union County Prosecutor’s Office.” Mirabelli, responding to comments by McMahon said he has interest in misconduct but only “after it is properly investigated.”

Calls to McMahon, who was reported to be out of town, have not been returned. 

Sciarra said in his statement, the video, “recorded sixteen months before this suit was filed, demonstrates the disinterest of the mayor and others in hearing about issues in the police department raised by an attorney for another police officer … The suggestion these people took appropriate action when issues were brought to their attention is a legal and factual zero.” 

During a Mountainside Council meeting which took place six months later, on June 20, the council adopted two ordinances:

79-2017 Indemnifying Hearing Officer Robert Verry, and

80-2017 Indemnifying the Mountainside Governing Body.

According to Resolution 79-2017, Verry asked to be indemnified in the event a claim or lawsuit is filed against him as a result of his involvement in a “disciplinary proceeding … involving a member of the Borough of Mountainside Police Department.”

When it was introduced for a vote, only the first paragraph was read, “Having appointed Hearing Officer Robert Verry under Resolution 109-2016 this resolution will allow for the indemnification of the Hearing Officer from any claim or lawsuit arising from disciplinary proceedings during the discharge of his duties.”  

The final paragraph of the resolution reads: “… in consideration of the continued orderly and effective operation of the Mountainside Police Department and its individual officers and further in consideration of the most orderly and effective and cost effective management of the instant disciplinary proceeding, the governing body of the Borough of Mountainside does hereby agree to indemnify, defend and save harmless Robert Verry of and from any and all claims, demands, losses, expenses, attorney’s fees, settlements, penalties, causes of action, judgments, damages and/or any and all liability whatsoever that may result or be determined to be due and owing by reason of any claim arising out of his discharge of his duties as Hearing Officer. This shall remain a continuing obligation of the governing body and the Borough of Mountainside to Robert Verry until the conclusion of the instant disciplinary proceedings.

The text is similar in Resolution 80-2017, except 80-2017 references the “governance of the Borough and further in consideration of the most orderly and effective and cost-effective management of the instant disciplinary proceeding, the Governing Body of the Borough of Mountainside does hereby agree to indemnify, defend and save harmless the members of the Governing Body of the Borough of Mountainside, both in their official capacities and individually,”  

No mention is made of the type of “instant disciplinary proceedings” or the police department. The complete text of both resolutions can be found on the website here.

The previous work session minutes did not contain any reference to indemnifying Verry or the Governing Body.

Verry was appointed at the Nov. 22, 2016 meeting of the council when it approved Resolution 109-2016 “Authorization to appoint Robert Verry as a Hearing Officer.” Resolution 79-2017 notes, the effect of resolution 109-2016 is to “delegate to Robert Verry the authority of the Police Committee of the Governing Body to hear and decide matters in the aforesaid disciplinary proceedings, and that in such circumstances Robert Verry is acting as a local public employee.”  

The disciplinary hearing being referred to in the resolutions was not related to the three officers who are now on administrative leave.

Have a news tip? Email FranklinTownship@tapinto.net.

Download the FREE TAPinto App!  Click here for Android - Click here for iOS for breaking news, traffic/weather alerts and special offers!

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Union

Construction Update on Vauxhall Ave. Bridge, Chestnut St. Bridge and Morris Avenue Work

June 19, 2018

UNION, NJ – A CodeRed alert about road construction, the resulting congestion, and what can be expected, was sent to residents Tuesday morning.

The message said the work on these state roads is being performed by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.  The message outlined the following work scheduled for June and July:

The Vauxhall Bridge over Route 22.  Work ...

The Week Ahead in Union

UNION, NJ - Happenings in Union this week:

Monday, 6/18

Union Township Active Retirees (Monday Club), 10:00 a.m., Senior Center
Adult Coloring, 1:15 p.m., Vauxhall Public Library
Construction Zone, 3:30 p.m., Union Public Library
Read to Waldi, 4:15 p.m., Union Public Library
Connect, Explore & Discover Digital Resources, 7:00 p.m., Union Public Library

Tuesday, ...

The Week Ahead in Union

UNION, NJ - Happenings in Union this week:

Monday, 6/11

Union Township Active Retirees (Monday Club), 10:00 a.m., Senior Center
Adult Prize Bingo, 1:15 p.m., Vauxhall Public Library
Construction Zone, 3:30 p.m., Union Public Library
Career Coach, 6:00 p.m., Vauxhall Public Library
Donuts with Your Dude,6:00 p.m., Vauxhall Public Library

Tuesday, 6/12

Senior Citizens ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_415aacf78687dcb7fab9_rock_painting

Mon, June 25, 1:00 PM

Union Public Library, Union

Let's Create Rock Art

Carousel_image_ec9461df1cd0015cf41f_mini_magick20180620-4048-snbre5

Mon, June 25, 3:30 PM

Union Public Library, Union

Construction Zone

Carousel_image_62d6e8e01b2ca6b48806_flagship

Tue, June 26, 7:00 PM

Union Public Library, Union

The History of Route 22

Carousel_image_1745e208dced874ffd8b_e6e6158b48ac79ad3add_chair_yoga__1_

Wed, June 27, 10:15 AM

Union Public Library, Union

Chair Yoga in the Library

Jordan Moass of Union has been named to the Spring 2018 Dean's List at the University at Albany

June 23, 2018

ALBANY, NY - Jordan Moass from Union has been named to the Spring 2018 Dean's List at the University at Albany. Students named to the Dean's List earned at least a 3.5 GPA.

About the University at Albany

A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate ...

Taylor Heggins Named to Spring 2018 Dean's List at American International College

SPRINGFIELD, MA - Taylor Heggins, of Union, has been named to the Spring 2018 Dean's List at American International College (AIC) in Springfield, MA. Dean's List students are full-time students with a grade point average between 3.3 and 4.0.Heggins is majoring in Health Science at AIC.

Founded in 1885, American International College (AIC) is a private, co-educational, doctoral granting ...

Union Residents Make Dean's List at the University of Delaware

NEWARK, DE - Students from Union have been named to the University of Delaware Dean's List for the Spring 2018 semester:

Natalie Caggiano 

Julia Hayes 

Steven Medina 

Maria Rocha 

To meet eligibility requirements for the Dean's List, a student must be enrolled full-time and earn a GPA of 3.33 or above (on a 4.0 scale) for the semester.

 

Fatal shooting in Plainfield under investigation

June 24, 2018

TAPinto Plainfield received this release from the Union County's Prosecutor's office:

PLAINFIELD, NJ  A shooting that left a man dead and a woman seriously injured in Plainfield overnight is under investigation, acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan announced Sunday.

The deceased victim has been identified as Michael Welsh, 34, of Plainfield.

Plainfield ...

Video: Union County Celebrates Pride Month with CommUNITY PRIDE Day Picnic

RAHWAY, NJ - Parents, children, friends, and all family members came out on Saturday afternoon to Rahway River Park for the Union County CommUNITY PRIDE Day Picnic.

The family-friendly celebration hosted by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders, was a day of fun activities of arts and crafts, family lawn games, inflatable bounce houses, playground fun and more, along with music by the ...

Honey Bees Found in Dumpster Relocated

UNION COUNTY, NJ – The County found themselves in a sticky situation last week when a swarm of honey bees were discovered at a construction dumpster at the County Administration building.

A social media post by the County said a pair of beekeepers from the nonprofit organization Groundwork Elizabeth came to the scene on Friday, and the bees were relocated to the Elmora Public Library, as ...

Boundless Talent on Display at Hannah Caldwell School

June 15, 2018

UNION, NJ –Talent was on full display last week as over 40 students participated in Hannah Caldwell School’s Talent Show, with singing, dancing, musical instrument performances, and even a comedian.

“This is a special performance because the children are in control.  All of the acts in the show were prepared outside of school by the students,” said music teacher ...

Battle Hill and Hannah Caldwell Students Celebrate Reading Accomplishments

UNION, NJ – Young readers in Hannah Caldwell and Battle Hill Elementary Schools enjoyed the fruits of their labor on Wednesday when they celebrated their accomplishments in this year's Olympic Reading Programs.

Librarian Karen Franciosa said, “I couldn't be more proud of the students who worked diligently throughout the year to accomplish their personal reading ...

Linden Man Arrested After Explosion in Cranford

June 22, 2018

CRANFORD - On Wednesday, June 20, 2018 at 7:06 p.m. the Cranford Police Department received
information that an explosion was heard in the area of Raritan Road and Summit Terrace. Through
a joint investigation with the Union County Prosecutor's Office and Linden Police Department, the
Cranford Police Department Detective Bureau identified a suspect through surveillance video ...

Cranford High Student Competes at U.S. Junior Amateur Sectional Qualifier

SCOTCH PLAINS - Cranford soon-to-be senior Johnny Bush took his shot to qualify for a USGA championship on Wednesday.

Bush shot a 6-over-par 76 (38-38) to finish in a five-way tie for 21st place in a U.S. Junior Amateur Sectional Qualifier at the par 70, 6,558-yard Shackamaxon Country Club in nearby Scotch Plains.

65 golfers, including 54 from the Garden State, took a ...

Charges Pending Against Roselle Man Found with More than 40 Dogs Living in Squalor

ROSELLE, NJ - A Roselle man will be charged with multiple criminal offenses after more than 40 dogs were discovered living in severely unsanitary and inhumane living conditions in his home last week, according to the Union County Prosecutor’s Office and New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

According to the authorities, members of those two agencies, the ...

Westfield High School Sophomore Dies; Counselors on Hand at School

WESTFIELD, NJ — Carthoris “Carter” Uziel, a sophomore at Westfield High School, died Sunday night, according to Westfield Public Schools and a letter sent to parents by Principal Dr. Derrick Nelson.

“Words cannot convey the grief we feel in the Westfield Public Schools community over the death of Carthoris ‘Carter’ Uziel, a sophomore at Westfield High ...

Register Today for Summer Youth Courses Offered at Union County College

June 23, 2018

CRANFORD – This summer the Office of Continuing Education at Union County College is expanding its course offerings for youth ages 11-18. Classes are taught by NJ-certified teachers and subject matter experts that specialize in delivering high-quality youth programs. Classes begin the week of June 25 and run through August 23.

Classes offered include Introduction to Musical Theater, ...

Shakespeare in the Park Returns to Union County, Sunday, July 8

LINDEN, NJ -- The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to announce the return of Shakespeare in the Park this summer. The first performance will be presented on Sunday, July 8 at 7:00 p.m. at the Raymond Wood Bauer Promenade in Linden.

The Shrew Mechanicals Troupe from The Shakespeare Theatre of New jersey will present an hour long performance of “Powerful Trouble,” ...

June 22 Concert Moved Indoors Due to Weather Forecast

Due to the weather forecast, tonight’s concert originally located at Echo Lake Park is now MOVED INDOORS to the Main Stage of the Union County Performing Arts Center, at 1601 Irving Street in Rahway.

Come an enjoy an evening with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra at this beautifully restored 1920's era former vaudeville hall. Concert begins at 7:30 sharp (sorry, no yoga ...

Reminder: Eligible Seniors Can Receive $25 in Free Vouchers for Farmer’s Markets, Starting June 25

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders reminds income-eligible senior residents age 60 and over that they can apply for a total of $25 in free vouchers to purchase fresh produce. The vouchers may be used only at Farmer’s Markets in Union County that display a yellow and black WIC sign.

“Farmer’s Markets are a feature of community life throughout Union County in the ...

Columns

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast Episode 17

On this week’s AtlantiCast, it’s National Men’s Health Month, so check out important health tips for you or the men in your life, learn about groundbreaking research into breast cancer treatment that could mean an end to chemotherapy for some patients, meet a local sports hero who’s living his baseball dreams thanks to Goryeb Children’s Hospital and much ...

'Half Time' delivers with sterling cast

MILLBURN, NJ – The Paper Mill Playhouse is putting on a smashing new production of “Half Time” to round out its current season.

With actress Georgia Engel in an engaging performance, the cast also features Donna McKehnie, Andre De Shieilds and Lilias White, among a host of other talents.

The musical centers on an effort to have seniors perform a dance number during ...

'Half Time' lights up Paper Mill stage

‘Half Time’ turns the tables on aging in gleeful production

By Liz Keill

MILLBURN, NJ – The Paper Mill Playhouse is putting on a smashing new production of “Half Time” to round out its current season.

With actress Georgia Engel in an engaging performance, the cast also features Donna McKehnie, Andre De Shieilds and Lilias White, among a host of other ...

Could Monmouth Park's Haskell Invitational Be on Justify's Agenda?

June 13, 2018

ELMONT, NY — Triple Crown winner Justify came out of his stall to meet the media bright and bouncing on the morning after his gate-to-wire win in the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes.

When asked to assess his colt's win, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert reported, “We were watching replays of the race. He could have gone around again.”

The brilliantly colored ...

Letters to the Editor