Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Hackensack to Increase DPW Oversight

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Hackensack to Increase DPW Oversight

Article excerpt

HACKENSACK -- The city manager will increase his oversight of the Department of Public Works in the wake of a federal lawsuit alleging civil rights and racketeering law violations by a pair of supervisors.

The decision was announced following the public disclosure this week of a federal lawsuit that two DPW workers filed on Dec. 16.

Hackensack officials also issued a statement on Friday saying they were awaiting further instruction on the lawsuit from the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office, which Ted Ehrenburg, the city manager, contacted after reviewing the suit with city attorneys.

"This matter will be thoroughly investigated and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken if and when we have proof that an employee has violated the public trust," Ehrenburg said in the release.

Despite the allegations made in the lawsuit, the defendants, Jesse D'Amore, a public works supervisor, and Anthony Seidita, an assistant supervisor, would not be suspended based on the complaint, Ehrenburg said in a telephone interview on Friday. Nor will the city manager be taking over the day-to-day operations of the department.

But the city manager said he will be keeping a closer watch on the department in order to "calm the fears of employees on all sides to make sure the operations run effectively and efficiently," he said.

"I want to make sure there's no retaliation, and that we're not picking on anybody," Ehrenburg added. "I'm not putting up with any of that."

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Newark, was brought by DPW employees Mario Candela and Richard Terranova. In the complaint, they claim their bosses, D'Amore and Seidita, engaged in a number of illegal actions over a two-year period, then threatened to fire Candela and Terranova if they didn't cooperate.

The list of alleged offenses outlined in Candela and Terranova's suit is lengthy. It claims D'Amore and Seidita made and sold homemade gun cartridges on city property during working hours, secretly recorded DPW employees by installing cameras in a hole in the department garage's ceiling and siphoned heating oil from a Paterson school to resell privately, among other things. …

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