Police & Fire

Caldwell Lieutenant Files Civil Lawsuit Against Borough and Police Chief

CALDWELL, NJ — A year after filing a notice of intent to sue both the Borough of Caldwell and Police Chief James Bongiorno, Caldwell Police Lt. Michael Geary has filed an official complaint for “acts of discrimination and retaliation” by the chief among other wrongful actions.

The civil complaint was filed with the court on July 14 and was officially served to the borough and the chief on Thursday, Aug. 10, according to Geary’s attorney, Patrick Toscano. The decision to file comes amidst an ongoing legal battle between the three parties, in which Lt. Geary was found guilty of insubordination and conduct unbecoming of a superior officer in June after the chief and Detective Sgt. Brad Palatucci testified against him for being insubordinate to a direct order related to an incident that occurred in August 2016.

“It is both unfortunate and bemusing (sic) that Caldwell has determined that spending tens of thousands of dollars defending what we believe will eventually be shown is an indefensible lawsuit is the proper road to follow,” said Toscano. “Instead of meeting and attempting in good faith to amicably settle the lieutenant's more than valid claims, Caldwell has precipitously and with unmitigated hubris opted to litigate.

Sign Up for E-News

“That having been said, it is axiomatic to say that one cannot shake hands with a clenched fist. Therefore, the lieutenant will do what he has to do, and is looking forward to revealing his side of the story.”

Geary’s original intent to sue cited wrongful acts initiated against him by Bongiorno, including psychological damage due to “constant workplace harassment, ethnic slurs, hostile work environment and retaliatory actions,” as well as damage to his personal and professional reputation, according to the lieutenant. (See story HERE.)

The official complaint also includes a claim by Geary that Bongiorno threatened layoffs if officers did not write more summonses, knowing that ticket quotas are illegal in the State of New Jersey. The complaint also cites details of the internal affairs investigation of Geary as evidence of the chief’s “intimidation tactics.”

(See coverage of the February public hearing by clicking HERE and further details of the internal affairs investigation HERE.)

In June, after Hearing Officer and South Brunswick Police Chief Raymond Hayducka found Geary guilty of the charges filed against him, Geary announced that he would move forward with the civil lawsuit. He stated at the time that he believed the charges against him were served in retaliation for his filing the notice of intent to sue the chief and the borough in August 2016.

As the lieutenant is the third-ranking member in the Caldwell Police Department, the borough sought a 36-hour suspension of the lieutenant as a penalty for being disobedient to the chief later the same month. In Hayducka’s final analysis of evidence in June, he concluded that Geary was “clearly insubordinate” to the chief’s order to surrender his department-issued badge, identification and key fob.

At the time, Toscano said there was 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)—and that the two might have “known one another for years prior to the hearing officer’s hiring by Caldwell.” As this was unknown prior to the decision/ruling in the internal affairs trial, Toscano said it was “beyond cavil to state that the hearing officer had a clear conflict/appearance of impropriety, and should have never accepted this assignment from Caldwell.

According to Toscano, Geary is now demanding a trial by jury. 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

West Essex

Get $5 Off Admission At FunTime Junction On Father's Day

June 15, 2018

FAIRFIELD, NJ - Join us at FunTime Junction for Father's Day! GET $5 OFF ADMISSION with coupon when you wear your favorite sports team's jersey! Coupon Valid 6/17/18 only. Click here for coupon.

FunTime Junction is conveniently located at 400 Fairfield Rd in Fairfield, NJ 07004. 

About FunTime Junction

Awarded the 2017 Best Children’s Party Place by ...

CycleBar Livingston Offers 4 Rides for $39

LIVINGSTON, NJ - CycleBar Livingston -- Premium Indoor Cycling -- is offering four rides for $39 for new riders only.

New customers can take advantage of this deal at CycleBar Livingston at 277 Eisenhower Parkway. Call them at 973-261-5647. Visit livingston.cyclebar.com.

West Essex Lacrosse and Field Hockey's Julia Russo Named Athlete of the Week

June 4, 2018

NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — After a phenomenal career as a dual-sport athlete for West Essex High School (WEHS), Athlete of the Week Julia Russo will graduate from this month having left an undeniable mark on the Knights’ athletic program.

“I wasn’t keeping up with my stats as much as I should, I was just playing just to play,” said Russo, who has been a staple for ...

Millburn's Peter Serruto Drafted by Cincinnati Reds

June 6, 2018

MILLBURN, NJ - Peter Serruto, who just completed his senior season at Millburn High School, was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 22d round of the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft on Wednesday.

Serruto was the 649th pick overall.

The 6-foot, 190-pound right-handed batter has been a defensive standout since he first suited up in a Millburn uniform as a freshman.

"Defensively, ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_f6336b4ae60182e89776_roseland_library_logo

Tue, June 19, 9:30 AM

Rosalind Public Library, Roseland

Spring T’ai Chi Chih

Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_f6336b4ae60182e89776_roseland_library_logo

Wed, June 20, 11:30 AM

Roseland Public Library , Roseland

Adult Mat Yoga


Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_a3afe040c92e7fef61dc_ffpl_logo_with_address

Sat, June 23, 1:00 PM

Fairfield Free Public Library, Fairfield

Special Summer Reading Kick Off Show: Green Golly ...

Education

Solicitors In Fairfield Township

June 18, 2018

FAIRFIELD, NJ - Fairfield residents should be advised that APTIVE ENVIRONMENTAL has been issued a Solicitor License and will going door-to-door until Wednesday, July 11.

Canvassing hours are Monday through Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. 

All Solicitors have been issued bright YELLOW badges from the Municipal Clerk’s Office and should be ...

Obituaries

Mar 23, 1932 - Jun 2, 2018
Obituary - Donald J. Cooney, March 23, 1932 to June 2, 2018 Donald J. Cooney, 86, of North ...
Read more

A Special Thank You For Helping Us Weather The Storm

June 18, 2018

About a month ago, on May 15, 2018, something happened to me and my family that changed our lives. An act of God, apparently a “microburst,” tore through our front yard, and uprooted an approximately 19,000 pound tree. The tree fell into my 8 month old’s bedroom destroying the entire structure of our home.

My husband, with what I call divine intervention, told us to go ...

Sobel & Co. Valuation Practice and EAC Valuations LLC Merge

“We are pleased to announce that EAC Valuations PA has joined the Sobel & Co. Valuation Practice to create Sobel Valuations LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sobel & Co.,” said Alan Sobel, managing member of the firm.

“From the first time Frank Merenda, president and CEO of EAC Valuations, met with the Sobel & Co. valuation team, we quickly recognized the power of ...