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Open Government Advocacy Project:
Lawrence pays $104,689.22 to settle police officer\'s back pay lawsuit

Issue Detail:

On June 7, 2012, the Township of Lawrence (Mercer County) agreed to pay $104,689.22 to a Township police officer who sued the Township for back pay for the time he was out of work waiting for a favorable disposition of criminal charges brought against him. In his suit, Todd Sparks said that he was suspended without pay on March 16, 2010 after having been charged with third degree theft by deception. The indictment against him was dismissed on April 26, 2011. During his period of suspension, Sparks claims that he is due back salary, vacation days, uniform allowance and other benefits he would have received had he not been suspended. The case is captioned Sparks v. Lawrence, Mercer County Superior Court Docket No. L-1746-11 and Sparks\'s attorney was Christopher A. Gray of Marlton. Case documents are on-line here. None of Sparks\'s allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $104,689.22 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Lawrence or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Lawrence or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Sparks $104,689.22 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants\' decision to settle 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 settle before trial--it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened. ABOUT ME AND WHY I\'M POSTING THIS. I chair the New Jersey Libertarian Party\'s Open Government Advocacy Project which seeks to increase governmental transparency and accountability, particularly at a local level. For more information on the Libertarian Party, go to http://www.njlp.org. As part of my work, I routinely check civil court cases where at least one of the parties is a government agency or official. Most often, these settlement agreements are never revealed to the public. I post them on the Libertarian Party\'s blog at http://njcivilsettlements.blogspot.com and other public forums because I believe that civil settlements, regardless of amount, may be of interest to citizens and taxpayers. John Paff Somerset, New Jersey




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New Jersey Libertarian Party Open Government Advocacy Project: Lawrence pays $104,689.22 to settle police officer\'s back pay lawsuit. August 18, 2012.
URL: http://ogtf.lpcnj.org/2012/2012231Uo/
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