Union County News

Mountainside Officials: We Knew Nothing About Allegations Until Lawsuit was Filed

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Mountainside Police Lieutenant Thomas Murphy and Police Chief Allan Attanasio. Credits: TAPinto Archive
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MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ – The mayor and council of Mountainside have gone on record stating they had no knowledge of the incidents alleged in the lawsuit filed on May 11 against the borough “until the filing of the lawsuit.”

The borough has also “retained former New Jersey State Police Superintendent Joseph Santiago” to help restore public trust in the department, according to a statement published on the borough's website on June 5 by the mayor and council.

The statement asserts the “recent news stories alleging some outrageous behavior involving our police department do not reflect the values of Mountainside, the Mayor and Council, and its residents”

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The lawsuit filed by five police officers and one part-time employee against the borough alleges two long-time officers and the police chief engaged in salacious, unprofessional, discriminatory, and potentially dangerous behavior targeted at specific officers and the employee, in their workplace over a number of years. A more complete report on the lawsuit can be found here.

The fallout from the lawsuit has led to two officers and the police chief being placed on leave.

Lt. Joseph Giannuzzi was named officer in charge of the department. 

The mayor and council have “asked the former Assistant U.S. Attorney William Maderer to expand his current investigation to include” the allegations in the lawsuit, according to the statement. He is expected to file a report that “may result in formal disciplinary charges against Chief Allan Attanasio, Lieutenant Thomas Murphy, and Detective Sergeant Andrew Huber,” within a few weeks, according to the statement.  

The borough is also cooperating with the investigation being conducted by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office on the allegations within the lawsuit.  

The complete statement, which can be found on the borough’s website, reads:  

As Mayor and Council, we want to be clear that recent news stories alleging some outrageous behavior involving our police department do not reflect the values of Mountainside, the Mayor and Council, and its residents. We are committed to reinforcing the values and code of conduct we expect from every Borough employee and we will, as quickly as possible, remove any individual who does not represent Mountainside in a professional manner. We have asked former Assistant U.S. Attorney William Maderer to expand his current investigation to include allegations in the recent lawsuit which we did not know about until the filing of the lawsuit. Within the next few weeks, we expect Mr. Maderer to provide a report regarding conduct that may result in formal disciplinary charges against Chief Allan Attanasio, Lieutenant Thomas Murphy, and Detective Sergeant Andrew Huber.  The Union County Prosecutor’s Office has begun its own investigation into allegations in the lawsuit, and we are cooperating in all respects.   The officers have been put on leave in accordance with New Jersey law.  Our insurance carrier has agreed that the Borough be represented by Christine Amalfe of the Gibbons law firm in Newark.  Ms. Amalfe is a highly experienced labor and employment attorney.  Lt. Joseph Giannuzzi is now the officer in charge of the Police Department. He reports that the Department is functioning well and that all police matters are being attended to as required. As Mayor and Council, we are taking immediate action to restore public trust in our Police Department and its practices. We have retained former New Jersey State Police Superintendent Joseph Santiago, who has an extensive track record of reforming and reorganizing municipal police departments throughout the State. This is an important step for the future of Mountainside. While we welcome your questions, our attorneys have advised us to refrain from commenting on specific allegations or claims. We will try to be as transparent as possible, but our answers must be somewhat constrained while this matter remains in active litigation and there is an ongoing investigation. We are proud to represent the residents of Mountainside and will provide additional updates as we are able to do so.

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