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Hackensack police officer files whistleblower suit claiming retaliation by superiors

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A Hackensack police officer claims his bosses retaliated against him for giving the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office incriminating information about a colleague.

Moises Flanagan contends in a whistleblower suit against Police Director Michael Mordaga, the department and the city that he was transferred to an overnight walking post once Officer Alberto Guitierrez — about whom he provided the information — returned to the squad after being convicted on a disorderly person charge.

Guitierrez was one of three officers who pleaded guilty in March of last year in connection with the beating of a resident.

Former PBA Chief Anthony Ferraioli and Officer Richard Sellito resigned as a condition of their plea deals. Guiterrez’s plea to the misdemeanor offense allowed him to keep his job. READ MORE….

In his lawsuit, Flanagan says he developed blisters on his feet from walking patrol that forced him to miss work.

Flanagan, who joined the department three years ago, refers to several conversations in his lawsuit that he said he had with colleagues about the situation.

In one, he claimed, an unnamed supervisor met him at his foot post in Foschini Park and told him: “[You] need you to know I had nothin’ to do with this.

“Obviously there is something else there,” Flanagan contends the unidentified supervisor said. “They wanted me to charge you wit[h] cowardice and I would not do it.”

Flanagan also cites an interoffice memo from a captain who refers both to “some type of friction” between him and Guittierez and claims being made that Guitierrez was seeking retaliation.

Flanagan also says that a sergeant tried to intervene on his behalf with Mordaga — who became the city police director in January 2013 — and was told to “mind his own business.”

“I’m on record advising of issue,” the suit claims the sergeant said. “[M]y hands are clean.”

Flanagan contends in the suit that Mordaga is the godfather of Guiterrez’s son.

( CLIFFVIEW PILOT left a message for Mordaga’s response to the suit. CHECK BACK FOR MORE DETAILS .)

Flanagan goes on to say the sergeant told him that a lieutenant wanted to charge him with a “no show no call” even though he got the day off to attend the U.S. Open. No charges were ever filed.

In April of last year, Flanagan’s suit continues, he met Councilman Dave Sims, who “took a liking” to him and asked whether he’d be interested in “becoming involved in various Hackensack Youth Programs.”

Sims made headlines in April when a city police detective accused him of using a racial epithet to introduce himself during a security drill at Hackensack High School, where he worked as a paraprofessional. ( SEE: Hackensack school board reviewing city councilman’s alleged racial remark to police detective )

Flanagan’s suit says he told Sims he was interested, and that the councilman said he needed to “run the idea through” Mordaga.

It says Sims then told Flanagan that Mordaga “shot it down….He has a problem with you.”

Flanagan claims Simms also told him to “be careful, man, you’re being watched.”

He also quotes Detective Joe Ayabi, whom he claims is “a close friend of the Guitierrez family,” telling him that Mordaga is “worried that you’re going to do something to get yourself jammed up.

“You don’t want to be bringing up old activity,” Flanagan contends that Ayabi told him. “If you try to sue now, you will be stuck here.”

He said he was also offered a job as a middle school resource officer if he didn’t make trouble, among other claims in the lawsuit.

The suit seeks a jury trial and claims that Flanagan has “suffered and continues to suffer substantial loss of income; diminishment of career opportunity; loss of self esteem; disruption of his family life; physical and mental pain; emotional trauma and distress; pain and suffering; and other irreparable harm.”

It seeks unspecified damanges for “all economic losses including, but not limited to, lost past and future salary and fringe benefits,” as well as compensatory, punitive and consequential damages, those for emotional distress, physical pain and suffering, and attorneys’ and court fees — all with interest.

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