Former Jersey City Police Chief Robert “Bubba” Cowan said the city “was lucky to have” retired Police Capt. Joseph Ascolese and Lt. Kelly Chesler – both who were indicted by the prosecutor’s office in June – on the force, praising their work ethic and calling them “good supervisors.”
Prior to discussing the 107-count indictment against four Jersey City police officers, accusing them of a slew crimes including official misconduct, Cowan touched on why he dropped his whistleblower lawsuit against the city, Mayor Steven Fulop and Public Safety Director James Shea.
“Every count of my lawsuit, I stand behind: each and every one of them is true. And there’s much documentary evidence behind a lot of it.”
Cowan said at this point, he’s beyond discussing the particulars of the suit, explaining that he decided to withdraw the complaint almost one year ago to the day since this sort of litigation is an “ever consuming thing in your life.”
He further stated that given the emotional and monetary strain associated with the suit, it was in the best interests of his family to let it go.
Nevertheless, he encourages reporters to follow up on the allegations made in the suit, since it’s all factual.
In short, Cowan’s suit accused Fulop, largely via Shea, of interfering with the police department’s day-to-day operations for political reasons.
Arguably the most explosive charge in the suit alleged that Jersey City police were asked to implement a 30-day “traffic safety stop” outside the Holland Tunnel in late 2013. However, a city spokeswoman said at the time that the accusation had no merit.
As far as the June indictments filed against four Jersey City cops, two of which are ranking officers (though one is retired), accusing the officers of being paid for no-show jobs mostly related to Pulaski Skyway security details, Cowan said nothing but complementary of Ascolese and Chesler.
“All I can say is this: I don’t have any knowledge or access to any of the facts of what the indictments were founded on. I could say this: that I know Capt. Ascolese and I know Lt. Chesler, they both worked for me, and I think Jersey City, at the time, was lucky to have them,” stated Cowan.
“I wish them well, again, I don’t know what they did or they did not do, but I know the officers that I knew were hard working police officers and good supervisors.”
The situation is a complicated one, as Ascolese and Chesler filed a federal lawsuit against Shea and current Police Chief Philip Zacche last year, accusing them of looking the other way when being informed of multiple instances of sexual harassment – later retaliating against Ascolese and Chesler for reporting the incidents.
Ascolese, Chesler, Michael Maietti and Michael O’Neil were all members of the Jersey City Police Department Motorcycle Squad, which has since been disbanded.