Saturday, August 23, 2014

Some more information on Medford's "workplace investigation."

This blog entry follows up on my August 11, 2014 entry (on-line here) and reflects Medford Township's response to the Open Public Records Act request that is set forth in the August 11, 2014 entry.

EXECUTIVE SESSION MINUTES

Medford gave me more narrowly redacted versions of the Council's June 24, 2014 and July 22, 2014 minutes.  And, it provided redacted minutes from two other executive sessions held on July 1, 2014 and July 15, 2014.  The old version and new versions of the minutes Medford disclosed are on-line here and here.  Unfortunately, the newest version of the redacted minutes do not give any real sense of the nature of the incident under investigation.

One item of interest, however, is that Township Manager Christopher Schultz was not present at the June 24, 2014 and July 22, 2014 meetings and left the July 1, 2014 and July 15, 2014 meetings when this "workplace investigation" was discussed.  This suggests that Mr. Schultz is somehow conflicted from participating or observing this discussion.

Also, the July 15, 2014 minutes reflect that the investigative report was nearly complete and should be "delivered to Mrs. Burger by the end of this week." (i.e. July 18, 2014)  The July 22, 2014 appear to confirm that the report had been completed given that Labor Attorney Robert Merryman gave Council an "overview" of it.

POLICE REPORTS

The records that Township Clerk Katherine E. Burger reflect that the following three police incidents are germane to the "workplace investigation."  Each one is linked to the relevant CAD report and/or incident reports.

06/20/14 - Incident 2014-00006939 (Harassment)
06/23/14 - Incident 2014-00007049 (Special Investigation)
06/25/14 - Incident 2014-00007156 (Suspicious Activity)

1. Regarding Investigation 6939, Mrs. Burger provided me only with the CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch Report).  That report shows only that a telephone call came into a police dispatcher at 1:38 p.m. on Friday, June 20, 2014.  According to my interpretation of the report, police unit 2502 (Police Lieutenant Arthur Waterman) responded to 91 Union St, Medford at 1:38 p.m. and cleared the scene at 1:38 p.m.  The CAD report shows the "nature of the call" as "harassment."  (I have placed a new OPRA request to Mrs. Burger for the police incident reports related to this incident.)

2. Investigation 7049 is a "Special Investigation" conducted by Chief Richard Meder.  Chief Meder's report indicates that the "Township of Medford" was the "victim" of whatever offense was being investigated.  The report cites that his investigation was initiated by a telephone call Mrs. Berger placed to him on Thursday, June 19, 2014.  She apparently then went to the police station to speak with Chief Meder after informing Mr. Merryman and Manager Schultz of her intention.  After providing Chief Meder with some information, Mrs. Berger called him again at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, June 20, 2014 and requested that either the Chief or Lieutenant Waterman come to the Township Building because "additional information was coming to light."  The information was apparently important enough to cause Chief Meder to abandon a trip he had already started to Evesham for a training seminar and return to meet Mrs. Burger.  After meeting with Mrs. Burger, Chief Meder briefed his command staff as well as Burlington County Assistant Prosecutor Thaddeus Drummond about that matter. Chief Meder's report further recites that the Township Council, on June 24, 2014, retained a Special Counsel to investigate further.

Interestingly, Chief Meder reports that on Friday, August 8, 2014 he was "summoned to Union Fire Company by Kathy Burger who was continuing her administrative investigation.

3. Investigation 7056 regards Officer William Knecht's Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 4:04 p.m. dispatch to 91 Union Street to investigate a report of "suspicious activity." While Knecht's report identifies a white, male "subject" of the investigation, the identity of this subject is blacked-out.  According to Knecht's report, he began his investigation after Chief Meder told him about information he had received from a Medford employee.

On Friday, June 27, 2014, Knecht received contact from William Tietjen of the New Jersey State Police Missing Persons Unit regarding a person whose name was redacted from the report.  Almost two weeks later, on Wednesday, July 9, 2014, Knecht and Detective Corporal Jason Deroian met with unknown individuals.  After that meeting, Knecht spoke with Tietjen who said that he would "do some background work on [unknown]."  The next day, July 10, 2014, Tietjen reported that his background work revealed nothing but that he would be available on July 16, 2014 and that he would ask the State Police Polygraph Unit to assist.  The unknown suspect, apparently hooked up to a polygraph administered by State Police Detective Marie Sansone, was interviewed at the Medford Police Station at noon on July 16, 2014.

According to Deroian's report, the polygraph interview actually began at 12:54 p.m. in Interview Room #1 at the Criminal Investigation Bureau.  An audio recording was made of the interview, which was attended by the subject, Knecht, Deroian and members of the State Police Missing Persons and Polygraph units.  The interview lasted until 2;15 p.m.  Immediately after the interview, the subject asked for a phone and "attorney's phone number."  Deroian gave the subject 856-694-0306 and turned off the audio recorder while the subject called that number.  The subject then gathered his property and left the station at 2:21 p.m.  According to a Google search, the phone number belongs to the Franklinville location of the Hoffman DiMuzio law firm.

On Monday, August 11, 2014 Deroian, Knecht and Chief Meder met and determined that the case should be closed and labeled as "unfounded."