A police sergeant on Long Beach Island arrested earlier this month and charged with illegal use of a law-enforcement computer filed a civil rights lawsuit against the department last year.
Gerard Traynor, 52, of Beach Haven, alleges Anthony Deely, chief of the Long Beach Township Police Department, and township Mayor Joseph Mancini violated his right to freedom of speech and retaliated against him during instances from 2013 to 2017.
Armando Riccio, the attorney representing the Police Department, township, Deely and Mancini, said he had no statement to make, but that the criminal charges could have an impact on the suit, including a stay, or suspension, of the proceedings.
Traynor’s lawyer, Peter Demkovitz, declined to comment Tuesday.
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Mancini did not return a request for comment.
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in April 2018 and which also named the township and the Police Department, asked for a jury trial and seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorney fees.
Telephone and settlement conferences in the case are scheduled for July 31 and Sept. 10, respectively, court records show.
In November 2013, Traynor, who is also president of the Fraternal Order of Police Long Beach Island Lodge 5, spoke during a panel at Ocean County College about Hurricane Sandy as a representative of the union, according to the suit, and was reprimanded by Mancini after an article published from the event said the county was “underprepared” for the storm.
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“You’re done. Your career’s over,” Mancini allegedly told Traynor.
The suit alleges Traynor was “isolated” from the rest of the department, didn’t receive the training he needed and then was disciplined for not completing tasks correctly.
In January 2017, Traynor was passed over for a promotion to lieutenant and instead a sergeant with “fewer years on the force, less education and who scored lower on the lieutenant’s exam” was promoted instead, according to the suit.
Then, in June 2017, Traynor, who is also a licensed attorney, “had a brief conversation” on his cellphone while on duty as a police officer to speak with a township resident and was charged with several violations, including conducting personal business while on duty.
The suit alleges the charges are “meritless” and “singled Sergeant Traynor out for behavior that is otherwise tolerated” by the Police Department.
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In an answer to the complaint, Riccio denied Traynor’s allegations and said Traynor’s claims are “frivolous and warrant an award of costs and counsel fees against plaintiff and in favor of the defendants.”
Traynor, who has law offices in Surf City and owns a home in Galloway Township, was arrested April 1 and charged with two counts of criminal computer activity.
According to the Prosecutor’s Office, the investigation found Traynor accessed secure computer-based information for personal reasons, rather than for law-enforcement purposes.
Deely said in a statement Traynor was suspended with pay from the Police Department pending the conclusion of a criminal matter.
According to public pension records, Traynor’s salary is $139,180.