News

Originally published by Burlington County Times, republished under Creative Common License

FLORENCE -- The police chief has come under fire from the municipality and from rank-and-file members of his department.

Chief John Bunce was taken off the job earlier this week until the conclusion of an investigation concerning his conduct.

Township Administrator Richard Brook said Bunce was placed on paid administrative leave Monday afternoon, effective immediately. Bunce could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

On October 15, 2015, both Keith Brown of NJ Advance Media and Isaac Avilucea of the Trentonian reported that State Police Detective Doug Muraglia was one of the two officers who together fired as many as eighteen shots at Radazz Hearns, then age 14, on August 7, 2015. The other officer who fired at Hearns was identified by the newspapers as Mercer County Sheriff’s Detective James Udijohn.

On June 5, 2017, the Town of Dover (Morris County) paid $382,500 to settle a lawsuit filed by an officer who said that he was retaliated against for complaining about ticket-fixing and for reporting that officers were "stealing time" by leaving work early or taking days off.

In his complaint, Timothy Thiel claimed that during a 2011 traffic stop of a car driven by a campaign worker for Mayor James Dodd and which carried Alderwoman Carolyn Blackman as a passenger, he "was pressured to not write tickets because of who was in the car." Thiel said that after he wrote two summonses despite the pressure, he learned that the tickets were improperly dismissed by the municipal court without his knowledge or approval. Through a police sergeant, the ticket-fixing allegation was reported to the Morris County Prosecutor's Office.

July 26, 2017

Internal Affairs Unit
Neptune Township Police Department
25 Neptune Blvd.
Neptune, NJ 07753
(via fax only to 732-774-0982 )

RE: Officer Aaron Lay

Dear Sir or Madam:

I chair the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Police Accountability Project and ask that you accept this letter as an Internal Affairs complaint. Note that this is the second complaint we have filed regarding a warrantless strip search. Our first complaint was filed on March 18, 2013 and reported that Lieutenant Robert Mangold had conducted a warrantless strip search that resulted in two glassine bags of heroin being suppressed by the court. Notwithstanding the court's finding, your Internal Affairs Unit exonerated Mangold after finding that he "followed the appropriate department policies and procedures."

NJLP Board Member, Dorit Goikhman, interviews LNC member Arvin Vohra.

On December 9, 2016, the Burlington County Institute of Technology (BCIT) quietly paid $65,000 to settle a former African-American student's lawsuit which claimed that he was repeatedly racially harassed by other students and that school officials took no corrective action.

In his suit, Venice Samuel, III of Willingboro, who was a minor at the time the suit was filed but an adult at the time it was settled, claimed that he suffered several incidents of racial harassment during his junior and senior years at the BCIT's Medford Campus. Samuel claimed that he was repeatedly called a n****r during October 2012 by a student identified in the lawsuit only as "D.D." He said that Assistant Principal Michael Parker failed to take any action after receiving Samuel's complaints.

The New Jersey Libertarian Party and I would like to cordially invite you to join us for a night of comedy relief in support of your favorite Garden State political party. 

The first annual Laughs for Liberty will be held June 24, 2017 at the Atlantic City Comedy Club. This event features some of the best area comics, see the attached flyer.

The Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) requires public bodies to make the minutes of their meetings, both public and non-public (i.e. closed or executive), "promptly available to the public." Recent correspondence with one South Jersey township reveals that minutes from closed meetings held five years ago are still not available for public inspection and that minutes from closed meetings held in the 1980's and 1990's have apparently been lost forever.

A May 16, 2017 Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request to Deerfield Township in Cumberland County sought "the minutes of the three (3) most recently held [closed] Deerfield Township Committee meetings for which minutes are available in either full or redacted form." The request went on to explain that if "the three most recent closed meetings for which minutes are available in whole or part took place ten years ago in April, May and June of 2007, then those would be the minutes that are responsive to this request."

This month it will be one year since I was charged with "harassment" and "criminal mischief" in the "People's Republic of Gladstone and Peapack". What heinous act did I commit to warrant those charges? Are you ready for this? I left history magazines at the drive-up windo at th Peapack-Gladstone Bank in Gladstone, NJ! Apparently leaving reading material in areas frequented by the public is not allowed in the"Constitution -free zone" called Gladstone!

Greetings Fellow Libertarians,

The New Jersey Libertarian Party is happy to announce that it will be partnering with http://TaiChiGala.com to offer its members discounted pricing for the 2017 Tai Chi Gala, held in Henryville, PA from June 2nd thru June 4th. The organizers of the event, who are also dedicated libertarians, have not only offered discounts to those who register using the code Liberty2017 but they will also be donating $50 for each of these registrants.

The NJLP feels that there is no better way for its members to enjoy the natural healing and stress relief of this Chinese martial art while also supporting the most relaxing and stress free political party on the market. Other topics covered during this event include eastern philosophy, mindfulness, meditation, qi energy development, mind/body healing, and push hands.

Act fast as space is limited and this discount will only be offered until May 19th!!!

Book now using LIBERTY2017 and help support the New Jersey Libertarian Party!!!

Best Wishes, 

Kevin Lowery
VP of Programs

Police Accountability Project of the New Jersey Libertarian Party

April 27, 2017
Jersey City Police Department, IA Unit
1 Journal Square Plaza – 4th Floor
Jersey City, NJ 07306       (Via Fax to 201-547-5512)

Dear Sir or Madam:

I chair the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Police Accountability Project and ask that you accept this letter as our Internal Affairs complaint. We would like your agency to investigate whether Jersey City Officers Greg Wojtowicz, Carlos Lugo and other officers employed by your agency acted in accordance with department policy and the law regarding a warrantless search of minivan containing 500 glassine bags of heroin.

Police Accountability Project of the New Jersey Libertarian Party

March 1, 2017

Lieutenant Al Payne
Internal Affairs Unit
Raritan Township Police Department
2 Municipal Drive
Flemington, NJ 08822            (Via Fax to 908-782-1060)

Dear Lieutenant Payne:

I chair the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Police Accountability Project and ask that you accept this letter as our Internal Affairs complaint. We would like your agency to investigate Officer (now Sergeant) Benedict Donaruma's July 30, 2013 motor vehicle stop of Donna Alessi.

2017 NJLP Convention
March 11, 2017
Agenda

09:00 Call to order & quorum check [Chair]

09:05 Agenda review & approval [Chair]

09:10 Secretary's Report [Secretary]

Approval of prior meeting minutes (State Board Meeting 2/21/2016)

09:15 Treasurer's report [Treasurer]

On August 3, 2016, the City of Millville (Cumberland County) agreed to pay $40,000 to a teenage dirt bike rider who said that a Millville police officer "point[ed] a gun directly at him."

In his lawsuit filed on January 12, 2015, a thirteen year old boy, identified only by the initials C.F., claimed that Millville Police Officer Michael Thompson pointed "a gun directly at him" for about 30 seconds after Thompson stopped the boy for riding a motorized dirt bike in a wooded area near Magnolia Avenue on September 27, 2014.  The boy and his parent, identified as D.F., claimed that the officer's decision to pull his weapon was unwarranted "because  of the lack of severity of the crime at issue, because [the boy] did not pose an immediate threat to the safety of the police officer or others, and because [the boy] was not actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight."  According to the lawsuit, the officer's decision to deploy his weapon amounted to excessive force and violated the boy's rights under both the federal and state constitutions.

A recently uncovered settlement agreement made on June 16, 2014 shows that the City of East Orange (Essex County) agreed to pay $200,000 to a police matron who said that a captain with the city's police department ejaculated on her love seat and his service revolver while he visited her home in 2007.

In her lawsuit, Candida Ray said that Captain Anthony Cooke visited her home on January 26, 2007 to "discuss a business matter involving the sale of cakes and cookies."  She claimed that the meeting was "strictly business" and that she and Cooke never had an intimate relationship.  According to the lawsuit, Ray left Cooke alone in the living room while she stepped into the kitchen.  When she returned "she found that Captain Cooke had removed his penis from his trousers and was masturbating."  When she told him to stop and leave her home, Cooke reportedly "refused and masturbated to orgasm, ejaculating over Ms. Ray's love seat and his gun, which he had withdrawn from his holster."

On July 15, 2016, the City of Linden (Union County) agreed to pay $45,000 to a man who said that he was wrongfully arrested and held in jail for 65 days.

In his lawsuit, Eon Flemming said that Linden Police Detective "M. Rawling" (presumably Maurice S. Rawlins) wrongfully arrested him on December 6, 2011 in Long Branch, New Jersey for a drug offense.  He said that he was jailed for 65 days and that the charges were administratively dismissed.

The case is captioned Flemming v. City of Linden, et al, Docket No. UNN-L-4179-13 and Flemming's attorney was David B. Owens of Jersey City. Case documents are on-line here.

None of lawsuit's allegations have been proven or disproven in court.  Settlement agreements typically state that payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by any of the defendants.  All that is known for sure is that Linden or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Flemming $45,000 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants' decision was done to save further legal expense and the costs of trying what were in fact exaggerated or meritless claims. Or, perhaps the claims were true and the defendants wanted to avoid being embarrassed at trial. This is the problem when cases resolve before trial--it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened.

On September 18, 2016, the Elizabeth City Council (Union County) agreed to pay $30,000 to a Roselle Park man who said that he suffered a fractured back after having been stomped by police.

In his lawsuit, Luis A. Padua said that on April 8, 2011 he was waiting for a ride outside of a parking garage on West Grand Street when he was approached by Captain Torner (presumably Tyrone E. Torner) and Officers A. Vrohidis and Marcos Diaz.  Padua claimed that the officers, who had been notified of a vehicle theft at the parking garage, "began to beat and kick [Padua], pushing him against a wall and stomping on his back, to the point where his back was fractured."  Padua claimed that the officers fabricated Obstruction, Resisting and Criminal Trespass charges against him that were eventually dismissed.

Also named in the suit were Police Chief Patrick Shannon and Police Director James Cosgrove.

The case is captioned Padua v. City of Elizabeth, et al, Federal Case No. 13-cv-04645 and Padua's attorney was Shelley L. Stangler of Springfield. Case documents are on-line here

None of lawsuit's allegations have been proven or disproven in court.  Settlement agreements typically state that payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by any of the defendants.  All that is known for sure is vthat Elizabeth or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Padua $30,000 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants' decision was done to save further legal expense and the costs of trying what were in fact exaggerated or meritless claims. Or, perhaps the claims were true and the defendants wanted to avoid being embarrassed at trial. This is the problem when cases resolve before trial--it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened.

Published in The Record, 11/11/2016

Regarding "2016 county, municipal, election results" (Page L-3, Nov. 9):

Those who voted by absentee ballot should be aware that they were not in the unofficial results posted on the website of the Bergen County clerk at 11:18 p.m. on election night. Nor were they in the vote totals shown in The Record the following day. There were 33,000 absentee ballots, about 8.5 percent of the total votes cast.