Former Guttenberg Mayor Dave Delle Donna made at an unexpected appearance at Monday’s council meeting to go off on the governing body over a police officer suspension he felt was done improperly.
“Recently, one of the officers have been suspended. Now, I know we can’t get into any specifics, but I have a few questions about one of the procedures that were followed,” he said during the public portion of the meeting.
“Number 1: was a hearing held in front of the committee on police?,” he inquired.
Guttenberg Corporation Counsel Charles Daglian advised the mayor and council not to discuss the matter in public.
“Mayor Delle Donna, as you’re aware, personnel matters cannot be discussed in public. You can certainly make any comments that you deem appropriate, but I’m advising the mayor and council that they should not go into any aspect of the procedure as far as the individual or the policies or procedures that were followed in the individual,” he responded.
Daglian indicated that the matter is ongoing and the officer in question has retained a lawyer to address the allegations against him in a proper forum, but a council meeting would not fit that criteria.
Delle Donna received a similar answer from Daglian when he asked who was in charge of handing out discipline in the police department, leading him to eventually cut to the chase.
“Who suspended Officer [Francesco] De Lucia?,” Delle Donna asked.
The cop in question was the 2010 Guttenberg Police Officer of the Year, according to a placard on display on the second floor.
“Again, Mayor Delle Donna,” began Daglian before being cut off. “I’d like to make some statements,” exclaimed Delle Dona.
“Statements are fine,” Daglian said with a smile.
“We’ve had many times in the past where officers have had problems. I mean this is not, we don’t live in a bubble. They deal with criminals, they deal with people who are uncooperative. They deal with people who don’t necessarily agree with what they’re doing,” Delle Donna said.
“No matter whose right or whose wrong, we’ve had officers in the past who have committed, or have pleaded guilty to crimes, not terminated. We’ve had officers in the past … many, many instances of domestic violence were police officers from other towns had to respond, as far as I know never disciplined, actually promoted.”
The former elected official continued that he has heard two Guttenberg police officers are accused of “inappropriate conduct in our school” and such matters should be taken seriously, hinting that neither of those officers have been suspended.
The Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office did not respond as to whether or not they had an open investigation involving two Guttenberg police officers, while Guttenberg Superintendent of Schools Michelle Rosenberg declined to comment.
“It seems to me that someone is trying to prove things about this officer [De Lucia] and it always winds up coming back where nothing happens. I think you seriously need to look into the accusations being made,” Delle Donna continued.
He added that accusations have been made against De Lucia many times over the years and all of them have proven to be unsubstantiated.
The ex-mayor, who moved to Paramus after the town purchased his home due to a construction project dispute, concluded by saying it is wrong for De Lucia to be suspended without a hearing.
Delle Donna declined to comment beyond his public remarks after the meeting was adjourned.