Former Hoboken official awarded $625,000 in case against city; will receive more than $1 million total
Jan 06, 2014 | 1456 views | 0 0 comments | 31 31 recommendations | email to a friend | print
HOBOKEN – The city of Hoboken was ordered by a superior court jury to pay a former director of public safety $625,000 in punitive damages last week after the city council voted down an undisclosed settlement that was previously reached between the city’s lawyers and an attorney for the official, who confirmed the verdict.

Angel Alicea, who sued the city for discrimination following his resignation in April 2011, is already being paid $440,000 in retroactive salary, bringing the city’s expenses in the legal matter to more than $1 million. Alicea filed a joint suit against the city and Mayor Dawn Zimmer, though a jury absolved Zimmer of any wrongdoing.

“I think it was a fair ruling,” said Alicea’s attorney, Louis Zayas. “The jury ruled that the city’s conduct was despicable and should be punished, and hopefully it will deter similar conduct in the future.”

In late December, a jury sided with Alicea in his suit against the city, but found Zimmer personally not guilty. Alicea had sued the city because he said he was racially abused as a Hispanic male, while Zimmer has stated she asked for his resignation because he lied about meeting with Solomon Dwek, a federal informant at the center of the Bid Rig sting investigation in 2009.

In a statement, Zimmer said she was surprised by the jury’s decision, and stood by her request for Alicea’s resignation two years ago.

“I requested Mr. Alicea’s resignation because he did not tell the truth to me or to the public and the press about the two meetings that he had with Solomon Dwek”, she said.

The mayor went on to question the consistency of the jury’s decision, because it found her not guilty, but the city guilty.

“The jury correctly found that I personally did not discriminate against Mr. Alicea on the basis of his ethnicity when I asked for his resignation. This determination is completely inconsistent with the jury’s decision to hold the City of Hoboken and its taxpayers financially responsible,” she said. “The City is examining all of its legal options and will take all necessary steps to protect the interests of the City and its taxpayers.”

Alicea had withdrawn his damages claim after he was awarded the back pay and agreed to settle with the city, but brought his damages claim back to court last week after the council voted to reject it by a 5-2 vote. The amount of the original settlement with the city council remained secret. – Dean DeChiaro

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