Sunday, January 15, 2017

Cop's "whistleblower" complaint against Washington Township scheduled for March trial.

Assemblyman Paul Moriarty
A Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) lawsuit filed in 2013 by a Washington Township (Gloucester County) police officer who himself was indicted after arresting a member of the New Jersey General Assembly for drunk driving is scheduled to be tried before Gloucester County Superior Court Judge David W. Morgan on March 13, 2017.  Defendants in the suit include Bob Smith, the Township's former administrator who also did a stint as acting mayor, and recently-retired police chief Rafael Muniz.

In his lawsuit, Joseph DiBuonaventura, who remains suspended from the police department but is seeking reinstatement in a separate court action, claims that Township officials retaliated against him for reporting unknown officers for "fixing" traffic tickets that he had issued in September 2011 to "the relative of retired WTPD Captain John Vanonni."  DiBuonaventura's lawsuit also claimed that Muniz attempted to subvert an investigation into allegations that Muniz's son Lorenzo stole more than $7,000 worth of jewelry from a resident's home.  According to media reports, the younger Muniz was ultimately entered into the Pretrial Intervention (PTI) program.

DiBuonaventura's lawsuit also claimed that he was retaliated against for having arrested former Washington Township mayor (and current member of the New Jersey General Assembly) Paul Moriarty on July 31, 2012 for drunk driving and refusing a submit to an Alcotest.  According to the court filing, in October 2012 Moriarty met with Muniz and others for assistance "in drafting and filing criminal charges against" DiBuonaventura.  With the alleged assistance of Muniz and members of his staff, Moriarty filed twenty-seven criminal charges with the Washington Township Municipal Court.  DiBuonaventura was formally served with thirteen charges on November 19, 2012 and was indicted on May 1, 2013. 

A jury acquitted DiBuonaventura on all charges on March 3, 2015 and the Prosecutor's office also dropped the drunk driving and other charges against Moriarty.  In September 2016, Moriarty received a $50,000 settlement of his civil suit against DiBuonaventura from the Tri-County Joint Insurance Fund, Washington Township's insurer.

The March 27, 2017 trial will likely be postponed because depositions are still being taken.