Cops: We worked at chief's place on city time

Cops: We worked at chief's place on city time
November 19, 2007 Jersey Journal

HOBOKEN - Hoboken's top cop has now been accused of having police officers do manual labor at his home on the city's dime.

Police officers, who declined to be identified because they said they feared retaliation, said they removed debris and building materials from the basement of Chief Carmen LaBruno's home in Clinton in September 2006 when they should have been doing police work.

According to the officers, three of the plaintiffs who now have a suit pending against the former SWAT team commander, Lt. Angelo Andriani, said Andriani supervised the cleanup operation.

LaBruno could not be reached yesterday, but told The New York Times he has all the canceled checks to prove he paid contractors for renovations to his home. LaBruno said he had donated the materials to the SWAT team to build "whatever."

LaBruno added that all the officers who came to his house were there of their own volition.

Andriani said yesterday that the materials were to be used to build a new headquarters for the SWAT team near Hoboken University Medical Center. He said the plans had been delayed and the materials were to be used when a new site could be found.

"We went to the chief's house to pick up materials that he donated to us to put in the building that we were going to be getting," Andriani said. "This is all fluff to get the media's attention."

The officers showed photos of some of the materials being stored at the Hoboken Municipal Garage. But some of it was discarded, they said.

The three officers who carried out the work were Detectives George Fonseca, James Perez, and Cesar Olavarria. They are joined by Detective Mario Novo and Sgt. Edwin Pantoja in a lawsuit that accuses Andriani of being a "white supremacist."

The latest allegations don't appear in the lawsuit that was filed in federal court last month, but Manny Gonzalez, an attorney for the suing officers, said they would be added.

Recently appointed Public Safety Director Bill Bergin said he would investigate the new allegations this week.

Mayor David Roberts added, "All of the allegations are going to be thoroughly researched and if any them are shown to have merit they will be acted upon."

Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio, who is investigating allegations that some of these same officers were coerced to perform manual labor at Andriani's home in Verona, said yesterday it was the first he heard about the allegations concerning LaBruno.

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