A retired Atlantic City police sergeant claims he was forced from his job early and lost months of vacation and sick leave after helping blow the whistle on alleged interference by the public safety director.
Angelo Maimone, a 24-year veteran of the department, claims in the suit that he was denied his 4 percent raise and forced to retire early after signing an affidavit.
The suit focuses on then-Public Safety Director Christine Petersen and the practices she followed, including allegations in a previous suit by the city’s police union that said she overstepped her boundaries and restricted Internet access that hampered investigations.
Maimone reported the problems to his superiors in January 2011. The complaints from those he supervised continued, and on May 6, 2011, he outlined the problems in a signed affidavit, charging that “as a direct result of Director Petersen’s interference with the computer system, many criminal investigations were interfered with, causing harm to victims and the ability of the officers to promptly conclude criminal investigations.”
Petersen left the position a short time later, after the suit helped bring to light that she received a pension from her previous law enforcement position without waiting the required amount of time before taking the job with Atlantic City.
Maimone’s suit claims that his affidavit “had a direct causal relationship with the Public Safety director’s resignation two months later.”
“I completed an affidavit that went into a lawsuit, and then my life fell apart,” Maimone said in a phone call Tuesday.
The new suit claims Maimone was denied his 4 percent raise this year, which continues to impact his pension, along with losing accrued vacation and sick time, which he was using before his official retirement kicked in. The plan had been to retire Sept. 1 of this year, but limited options given to him by the administration forced him to retire July 1, the suit claims.
He also was informed he wouldn’t be paid for 432 hours of sick time he had accrued.
The suit names the city along with 10 “decision makers” not yet named and asks for compensatory, punitive and emotional damages, along with lost pension, wages, hours and benefits, front and back pay and other relief. There is no monetary amount listed.
The case has been given to a private firm, which is still reviewing the complaint, City Solicitor Braun Littlefield said.
“We do fully intend to pursue a defense of this case,” he said. “We feel that it does not have merit at this point.”
“I took every step I could take before I did this,” Maimone said of the suit. “It’s the only avenue I have. The reality is, it doesn’t cost the people that do this any money. The lawyers are paid for, so they don’t care. The ultimate thing is the people end up paying for it.”
As for the Internet policy that sparked the first suit, city labor attorney Steve Glickman said the Solicitor’s Office is working on a tiered Internet usage policy that would require different protocols depending on the details of the user’s assignment as part of the Police Department’s accreditation process.
As for current and past practices, Glickman said they were incorrectly represented in both Maimone’s lawsuit and the one by the PBA.
“It wasn’t like anyone who wanted to go on the Internet needed permission from the director — as far as I recall, that was a very broad, very inaccurate generality,” Glickman said last week.
Staff writer Emily Previti contributed to this report.
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