Saturday, October 15, 2016

Riverdale confidentially paid out $75,000 to police sergeant allegedly referred to as a "scumbag" by the mayor.

On July 12, 2016, the Borough of Riverdale (Morris County) agreed to pay $75,000 to settle a whistleblower and retaliation lawsuit filed by a police sergeant against the Borough and its former mayor.

In his lawsuit, Riverdale Police Sergeant Gregory Bogert claimed that former Mayor William Budesheim perceived that Bogert harassed Budesheim's son, who worked for the Borough as a police dispatcher.  Bogert, however, maintains that the junior Budesheim was often late to work and neglected his duties but escaped discipline because his father was the mayor.  Bogert also alleged that the junior Budesheim more than likely destroyed the campaign signs of his father's political opponents.  He also alleged that Mayor Budesheim has become so enraged at Bogert that he has tailgated his car and made a "scumbag" comment for which the Borough Council forced him to apologize.  This is just a sampling of Bogert's grievances. Read the lawsuit at the link below for more.

The case is captioned Bogert v. Borough of Riverdale et al, Superior Court Docket No. MRS-L-2639-13 and Bogert's attorney was Patrick P. Toscano, Jr. of  Caldwell. Case documents are on-line here

The settlement agreement contains a confidentiality clause, which prevents the parties to the suit from publicly disclosing the settlement terms.  Fortunately, however, these confidentiality clauses do not trump the public's right to obtain copies of settlement agreements that arise out of lawsuits in which a government agency or official is a defendant.

None of lawsuit's allegations have been proven or disproven in court.  Settlement agreements typically state that payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by any of the defendants.  All that is known for sure is that Riverdale or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Bogert $75,000 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants' decision was done to save further legal expense and the costs of trying what were in fact exaggerated or meritless claims. Or, perhaps the claims were true and the defendants wanted to avoid being embarrassed at trial. This is the problem when cases resolve before trial--it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened.