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Open Government Advocacy Project:
Greenwich pays $25,000 to settle police whistleblower case

Issue Detail:

On September 23, 2011, the Township of Greenwich (Warren County) agreed to pay $25,000 to a former Township police officer who sued the Greenwich Police Chief for allegedly retaliating against him and creating a hostile work environment. In his suit, Christopher T. Tasiopoulos said that Chief Richard J. Guzzo retaliated against him after he reported that Lieutenant Arthur J. Morrow \"had made intentional and fraudulent misrepresentations\" in official police department documents concerning Tasiopoulos and his fellow officers. Tasiopoulos claims that prior to reporting Morrow he \"received excellent performance evaluations.\" After reporting Morrow, however, he claims that he was removed from his position as a K-9 handler, was denied overtime hours and was subjected to \"several petty and unfounded Internal Affairs investigations\" against him. He also claims that he was ordered to not speak with the Mayor or Township Committee members, which violated his right to free speech. The case is captioned Tasiopoulos v. Township of Greenwich, Warren County Superior Court Docket No. WRN-L-109-09 and Tasiopoulos\'s attorney was John F. McDonnell of Washington. Case documents are on-line here. The settlement agreement contains a confidentiality clause, which prevents the parties to the suit from publicly disclosing the settlement terms. Fortunately, however, these confidentiality clauses do not trump the public\'s right to obtain copies of settlement agreements that arise out of lawsuits in which a government agency or official is a defendant. None of Tasiopoulos\'s allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $25,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Greenwich or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Greenwich or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Tasiopoulos $25,000 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: Greenwich pays $25,000 to settle police whistleblower case. September 27, 2012.
URL: http://ogtf.lpcnj.org/2012/2012271P6/
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