Hoboken Police Chief Sues Mayor, Claiming Personal Grudge
The chief filed a suit against Mayor Dawn Zimmer, claiming he is not being fairly compensated because the mayor allegedly blames him for an investigation into her father-in-law's hit and run death in 2005. The driver was never brought to justice.
Police Chief Anthony Falco is suing Mayor Dawn Zimmer, alleging that the mayor has undermined his authority because of a personal grudge against him.
Falco, who has been the chief of police since June 2009, filed a lawsuit, claiming he is not being treated fairly, doesn't know how many vacation days he's entitled to and that he was denied his uniform allowance ($1,300) as well as a "sick incentive" ($1,500) in 2012. The lawsuit, filed Monday in Federal Court in Newark is over the city's "failure to specify employment terms," according to the complaint.
"This withholding of at least $2,800 in compensation occurred without notice of any kind, and with no opportunity for the Chief to be heard regarding the matter," the complaint states.
One of the reasons for the alleged personal grudge, according to the complaint, is an unresolved hit and run accident in 2005 in which Zimmer's father-in-law died.
At the time of the incident, Falco was the head of the detective bureau at the police department. The driver of the car was never brought to justice.
"Upon information and belief, Zimmer blames Chief Falco personally for this failure," the complaint states.
While Zimmer declined to comment on the case, she said Wednesday, "I find it extremely unfortunate that Police Chief Falco has introduced my father-in-law’s tragic hit and run death into a lawsuit about his own compensation."
Chief Falco, reached on Wednesday morning, declined to comment.
"Mayor Zimmer’s animus toward Chief Falco has caused her to arbitrarily and unreasonably disregard the past practice between prior mayors and chiefs of police of providing the Chief with a document setting forth the terms of his employment," the complaint states.
Falco is being represented by attorneys Jason Orlando and John Bartlett. The chief is asking for $250,000 in damages.
The mayor has not yet been served with the papers.
Falco is a 42-year veteran of the police department and is scheduled to retire as chief next year, when he turns 65.
The rest of the officers in the police department received updated contracts after negotiations last year and have received a salary increase since. Falco, because he is not part of the bargaining unit, hasn't received a salary increase.
While the police and fire unions have completed contract negotiations in the past year, Hoboken's municipal workers have been without contracts for the last five years.
"Without an agreement, and in light of the City’s position that Chief Falco is not a member of any bargaining unit, the Chief does not even know the leave he is entitled to; whether and to what extent he is entitled to the insurance coverage and other benefits enjoyed by other senior officers," the complaint states, "or whether and under what circumstances he is entitled to overtime pay or other credit for excess hours worked."