The borough of Tinton Falls, N.J., has agreed to pay a former police officer $527,500 to settle a whistleblower lawsuit alleging the police department lashed out at him as retribution for voicing complaints about allegedly unlawful activity committed by a colleague.
According to the complaint, Lt. Kevin Pierson discovered in 2008 that another police officer in the department, then-Sgt. David Scrivanic, had fitted “a device on his home water pipes to divert water for his personal use without charge.”
According to the Asbury Park Press, the lawsuit claimed that an employee of New Jersey American Water Co. noted the water cheat on three occasions, but “Scrivanic used his position to intimidate the employee” and, while in uniform, threatened the worker off of his property.
Lt. Pierson reported the device to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, which resulted in its ordering the Tinton Falls Police Department to take “major disciplinary action” against Sgt. Scrivanic.
That accusation and the resulting order set off a series of retaliatory acts against Lt. Pierson, the lawsuit alleged, starting in March 2009 when the police department accused him of “misconduct observed by police personnel, reporting violations of law or rules, insubordination, failure to notify the chief of police and failure to file a report and forward it to the IA commander,” the Asbury Park Press reported, quoting Lt. Pierson’s lawsuit.
The lawsuit also alleged that Lt. Pierson was denied overtime opportunities, passed over for promotions, denied the right to attend classes for continuing education for police officers, and snubbed for an award in recognition of his role in saving a child’s life in a first-aid emergency.
The lawsuit also alleged that the department tampered with Lt. Pierson’s computer, ignored his radio calls, and demoted him from Sergeant to Lieutenant.
Additionally, Lt. Pierson’s brother, Craig Pierson, was passed over for promotions, the complaint alleged.
In late 2012, Lt. Pierson was notified that he was being placed on an “administrative psych leave,” and ordered to attend a fitness-for-duty evaluation without explanation.
The unceasing harassment grew so intolerable that Lt. Pierson was forced to resign in August 2014, the lawsuit claimed.
The borough and police department were permitted to deny wrongdoing and liability in the case as a condition of the settlement.
Source: Asbury Park Press