A Hudson County corrections officer recruit alleges in a lawsuit that his superior’s untoward behavior derailed his career, referring to him as “Big Papi,”offering a civilian job at the jail if he voluntarily withdrew from the academy, among other things.
“Now I remember who you remind me of! Big papi! Why don’t you go back to DR and maybe you’ll get shot?,” Hudson County Correctional Facility Lt. Helen Ford allegedly told Juaquin Benitez back on July 15th, 2019, according to a suit filed in Hudson County Superior Court last month.
The reference was of a June 2019 incident where professional baseball player David Ortiz, known as Big Papi was shot, while at a bar in the Dominican Republican.
During physical training on September 10th of that year, Benitez says through the suit that he “suffered a syncope episode” where he passed out and had to be treated for severe dehydration.
After allegedly communicating with Benitez until his stay at the hospital ended, September 14th, she is accused of telling him in a September 18th phone conversation she would offer him a civilian job if he quit the academy.
He declined her offer and tried to return to work the next day, but claims he was forced to leave after being harassed by two corrections officers.
This led to Ford issuing him a notice of disciplinary action and him being suspended, though he was able to return to the program on February 6th, 2020 after signing a settlement agreement and release.
However, he returned at a lower salary that before and was still subject to harassment, allegedly being called “Tekashi 69” and a snitch for reporting Ford’s actions.
Rapper Tekashi 69, real name Daniel Hernandez, was hit with a slew of charges including RICO, weapons possession, and conspiracy to commit murder in late 2018 and faced up to 47 years in prison.
However, he received just two years after testifying fellow gang members.
The six-count suit is seeking pecuniary damages, together with prejudgment interest, compensatory damages, punitive damages, litigation expenses, and any other relief the court deems just and equitable.
A county spokesman did not return an inquiry seeking comment, but in an answer to the complaint filed on Ford’s behalf on Wednesday, she denies any wrongdoing.
“It is asserted that there are legitimate, non-retaliatory on-retaliatory and non-discriminatory bases for each and every of this Defendant’s employment decision regarding Plaintiff are at issue in this action,” the response from County Counsel Ed Florio says.