Borough, Cop Duel in Rights Lawsuit

By Villeneuve, Marina | The Record (Bergen County, NJ), February 28, 2016 | Go to article overview

Borough, Cop Duel in Rights Lawsuit


Villeneuve, Marina, The Record (Bergen County, NJ)


SADDLE RIVER -- The borough government and local officials named in a police officer's 2014 federal civil rights lawsuit have filed a motion to quash a subpoena issued to former Mayor Sam Raia's accountant.

The lawsuit stems from the Police Department's promotion of Sgt. Jason Cosgriff over Lt. John Gaffney to the rank of police captain in August 2013. Gaffney sued, contending that despite having more years of experience, local officials did not select him as captain because of politics and his age.

Gaffney is seeking reimbursement of legal fees and damages from the borough, including back pay, benefits and recompense for humiliation and emotional distress. The two sides held a settlement conference at federal court in Newark on Jan. 14, according to court filings, and the next conference is scheduled for May 2.

Attorneys for Gaffney, a borough police officer since 1990 who earns about $170,000 annually, have called the promotion decision "retaliation" for attending a June 2013 charity event at the home of a political rival of Raia. Raia was mayor at the time.

In court filings, the borough, Police Department and nine named present and former council members have denied Gaffney's claims.

"[T]he Public Safety Committee unanimously voted to promote Cosgriff due to his visionary thinking and his leadership skills," wrote their attorney, David Pfund, in a motion this month to quash the subpoena. …

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