These NJ police officers were harassed by their bosses over their military service. They sued the department and won

news

Bloomfield officers Hector Cartagena and Michael McCracken

Bloomfield, New Jersey police officers won $1 million in damages after a jury found they were discriminated against by department officials for nearly a decade because they served in the military.


The July 3 decision in Superior Court in Essex County determined Bloomfield officers Hector Cartagena and Michael McCracken suffered harassing and wrongful conduct.

The lawsuit was filed in 2014 with two other officers, Anthony Argento and Michael Frazzano, who has since retired. The suit accused the township and police department of maintaining a hostile work environment, retaliation and discrimination.

While Argento and Frazzano were not awarded any damages, Cartagena and McCracken will each receive $400,000 in punitive damages. Cartagena will also receive $125,000 and McCracken will get $75,000 for emotional damages, according to court filings.

The township filed appeals Tuesday.

Kevin Barber, a Morristown-based attorney who represented the officers, did not immediately respond to request for comment. Bloomfield Township attorney David Pack also did not respond.

According to the lawsuit, Cartagena and McCracken were deployed overseas nine times and were accused of lying about leave time.

The lawsuit claims the four cops were passed over for promotions, targeted in internal affairs investigations and treated with disrespect.

"The department deliberately sought to punish (the officers) for their military service, but also made it clear to other officers that such military service was not compatible or accepted," the suit said.

McCracken and Cartagena claim in the suit they were subjected to an improper internal affairs investigation concerning the use of the military time, and the department requested the Essex County Prosecutor's Office conduct a criminal investigation.

Former township Police Chief Christopher Goul and former Lt. Richard Chiarello, who conducted the investigation, were named in the suit, along with several other township officials.

They also allege the department has had a history of terminating several officers who were veterans or forcing retirement, harassing former military members through investigations and passed them over for assignments and overtime.

———

©2019 NJ Advance Media Group, Edison, N.J.. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

The aircraft carriers USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Strike Groups and ships from the Republic of Korea Navy transit the Western Pacific Ocean Nov. 12, 2017. (U.S. Navy/ Lt. Aaron B. Hicks)

Editor's Note: This article by Matthew Cox originally appeared onMilitary.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The new acting secretary of the Navy said recently that he is open to designing a fleet that is larger than the current 355-ship plan, one that relies significantly on unmanned systems rather than solely on traditional gray hulls.

Read More Show Less
Maj. Mathew Golsteyn and 1st Lt. Clint Lorance (U.S. Army photos)

President Donald Trump, speaking during a closed-door speech to Republican Party of Florida donors at the state party's annual Statesman's Dinner, was in "rare form" Saturday night.

The dinner, which raised $3.5 million for the state party, was met with unusual secrecy. The 1,000 attendees were required to check their cell phones into individual locked cases before they entered the unmarked ballroom at the south end of the resort. Reporters were not allowed to attend.

But the secrecy was key to Trump's performance, which attendees called "hilarious."

Riding the high of the successful event turnout — and without the pressure of press or cell phones — Trump transformed into a "total comedian," according to six people who attended the event and spoke afterward to the Miami Herald.

He also pulled an unusual move, bringing on stage Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance and Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, who Trump pardoned last month for cases involving war crimes. Lorance was serving a 19-year sentence for ordering his soldiers shoot at unarmed men in Afghanistan, and Golsteyn was to stand trial for the 2010 extrajudicial killing of a suspected bomb maker.

Read More Show Less
Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Charles McGee (center), a decorated veteran of three wars, receives a congratulatory a send off after visiting with 436 Aerial Port Squadron personnel at Dover Air Force Base to help celebrate his 100th birthday in Dover, Delaware, Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. (Associated Press/David Tulis)

Retired Col. Charles McGee stepped out of the small commercial jet and flashed a smile.

Then a thumbs-up.

McGee had returned on a round-trip flight Friday morning from Dover Air Force Base, where he served as co-pilot on one of two flights done especially for his birthday.

By the way he disembarked from the plane, it was hard to tell that McGee, a Tuskegee Airman, was turning 100.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stephane Belcher)

The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act would allow service members to seek compensation when military doctors make mistakes that harm them, but they would still be unable to file medical malpractice lawsuits against the federal government.

On Monday night, Congress announced that it had finalized the NDAA, which must be passed by the House and Senate before going to President Donald Trump. If the president signs the NDAA into law, it would mark the first time in nearly seven decades that U.S. military personnel have had legal recourse to seek payment from the military in cases of medical malpractice.

Read More Show Less
Maj. Jason Michael Musgrove (Lincoln County Sheriff's Office)

A major serving at U.S. Army Cyber Command has been charged with distributing child pornography, according to the Justice Department.

Maj. Jason Michael Musgrove, who is based at Fort Gordon, Georgia, has been remanded to the U.S. Marshals service, a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Georgia says.

Read More Show Less