Since John Mooney left his job as Atlantic City police chief, he has twice applied for public safety jobs in the city without being considered, he told a jury Tuesday. His attorney continues to argue his client was targeted for removal by city administration.
A 34-year veteran of the Police Department, Mooney retired in May 2010 rather than face a demotion and the resulting cuts to his pension. He has sued the city, Mayor Lorenzo Langford and former Public Safety Director Christine Petersen alleging that the city retaliated against him for blocking various attempts by the administration to overstep its bounds.
Meanwhile, the city has said Mooney’s planned demotion — and thus the 2010 decision to briefly eliminate the position of police chief — was purely for budgetary purposes.
His planned demotion followed a series of memos in which former city Business Administrator Michael Scott called the former chief insubordinate when he questioned the Langford administration’s decision to remove police K-9s from the streets in response to complaints about the dogs. The K-9s were returned to service approximately a year later under a policy that Mooney characterized as having no substantial changes.
“They’re creating a paper trail in order to get me,” Mooney said Tuesday during his second full day of testifying in Superior Court that he was targeted as a whistle-blower.
After retiring from the department in 2010, he again applied for the police chief’s position upon learning that the city intended to reinstate the roll. He also applied for the position of public safety director after Petersen left. Ernest Jubilee, who became acting chief after Mooney’s departure, was named police chief; Willie Glass is the city’s public safety director.
John Donnelly, Mooney’s attorney, said Langford noted in a deposition that the former chief was never considered for either position. Langford is among the 40 potential witnesses in the case and is expected to testify.
In an attempt to counter the city’s claims that his planned demotion resulted from budgetary needs, Mooney told the court Tuesday that he had suggested approximately $9.6 million in savings through cuts that would have included eliminating the parking enforcement division, traffic control officers, and the city’s Weights and Measures Department.
In questioning, Mooney also continued discussion of his objection to the release of confidential police documents.
Petersen, the former public safety director, sought information on active police internal affairs and criminal investigations, Mooney said Tuesday, adding that he believes Petersen crossed a line and sought access to documents she should not have been able to see as a civilian.
In one case, she sought information on a domestic violence issue involving an Atlantic City police officer that was under investigation by the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, Mooney said.
In a 2010 memo from Langford to Petersen, the mayor asked that Petersen seek information on the case, which involved Atlantic City Police Capt. Barbara Black. According to the Langford memo shown in court, Black, who is now retired, was arrested in Pleasantville in February 2010 on charges of threatening to kill her estranged husband, Larry Taylor, also a retired police officer.
“It is alleged that some in the ACPD want to keep this incident under wraps until (Black’s) retirement, which is supposed to be Aug. 1, 2010,” Langford wrote.
Superior Court Judge Nelson Johnson would not permit Mooney to say why he believed Langford wanted information about the case after city attorneys objected to the question asked. Mooney said it would have been improper to turn over information about the case because the Prosecutor’s Office took the lead on the investigation.
Black retired from the Atlantic City Police Department in good standing. Information about the outcome of the 2010 incident was not available Tuesday.
Mooney is seeking more than $435,000 in compensation and reinstatement as police chief. He first took the stand late Friday afternoon and has sat for more than 12 hours of questioning by his attorney.
Attorneys William Lundsten and Alex Keoskey, who represent the city and Petersen, and former Atlantic City Solicitor Robert Tarver, who represents Langford will begin cross examination today.
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