Hoboken City Council OKs settling whistleblower suit with former Police Chief Falco for $650k

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The Hoboken City Council okayed settling a whistleblower lawsuit with former Police Chief Anthony Falco for $650,000 at last week’s meeting.

Photo via Hobokenpd.com

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Falco’s suit claimed former Mayor Dawn Zimmer and then-Public Safety Director Jon Tooke retaliated against him for supporting her political opponents, as well as testifying in the trial of former Public Safety Director Angel Alicea where he was ultimately awarded over a $1 million for discrimination, though the city appealed and settled for $700,000.

At the tail end of the meeting during new business, 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos made a motion to introduce an emergency resolution that was seconded by 6th Ward Councilwoman Jen Giattino.

“There’s a resolution for an emergency to vote on a settlement agreement for a former employee of the City of Hoboken. And that was motioned and seconded, please call the vote on that,” said Council President Mike Russo.

Giattino asked if the reason for the emergency had to be read into the record, to which Corporation Counsel Brian Aloia provided a brief explanation that indicated taxpayers would not be on the hook for the costs.

“A federal court judge is waiting for our decision, as is the JIF [joint insurance fund], which is the insurance company that will be paying it, for lack of a better word, they have a meeting before our next meeting where they’re gonna approve it,” he said.

No one else at the meeting discussed the settlement during public session.

The motion to add the emergency resolution to the agenda passed 7-1(1), with Councilwoman-at-Large Emily Jabbour voting no and 5th Ward Councilman Phil Cohen abstaining.

Subsequently, the vote to approve the settlement passed unanimously (9-0).

Falco, the police chief between 2009 and 2014, had pending litigation in superior and federal court.

According to public records, on April 5th, Hudson County Superior Court Judge Joseph Turula adjourned a May 5th trial in the matter until October 17th.

Additionally, a federal settlement conference was held on March 15th and Zimmer emailed the city council the next day giving her take on what had transpired since the claims were reinstated on appeal in 2019 and 2021, respectively.

“The proposed settlement does not mitigate any potential financial risk to the City that it might otherwise face if the case proceeds to trial. No such risk exist …  In a financial sense, the City has literally financially nothing to lose by proceeding to trial,” she wrote.

“At the conference, the federal Magistrate estimated the City’s maximum potential damages exclusive of legal fees, if the City were to lose at trial, to be only $35,000 – $45,000. Since the plaintiff’s chances of prevailing at trial are, to put it charitably, uncertain, that makes the settlement value, exclusive of legal fees nominal.”

She continued that the settlement “value” of the case should be based on the legal fees Falco has incurred to date, not in the allegations made in his lawsuits, as well as that the JIF would cover the costs whether they settled or proceeded to trial.

A city spokeswoman and Falco’s attorney did not return emails seeking comment.

19 COMMENTS

  1. “The proposed settlement does not mitigate any potential financial risk to the City that it might otherwise face if the case proceeds to trial. No such risk exist … In a financial sense, the City has literally financially nothing to lose by proceeding to trial,” she wrote.

    “At the conference, the federal Magistrate estimated the City’s maximum potential damages exclusive of legal fees, if the City were to lose at trial, to be only $35,000 – $45,000. Since the plaintiff’s chances of prevailing at trial are, to put it charitably, uncertain, that makes the settlement value, exclusive of legal fees nominal.”

    If this is the case, why “settle” for $650k? Why did the council approve this? What am I missing?

    • That’s a darn good question. Like many of this Administration’s odd decisions, there’s probably another “transaction” involved behind the scenes. Wouldn’t you like to know what the quid pro quo was for Stick Romano:s 50k a year job?

        • I didn’t often agree with Zimmer and never noted for her. The Washington St bike lane was nuts and the Observer highway bike lane no one uses is a traffic disaster. The Chris Christie diary thing was an embarassment. But at least we knew she wasn’t selling out the City with slimy side deals like Bhalla. I’ll take honest but misguided over “let’s make a secret deal and sell out the City” every day of the week.

  2. Hope nobody aligned with Zimmer or this case, makes any posts that could cost us more than the city has already blown on this case.

  3. Is this guy related to Fmr. City Councilwoman Falco ?
    Three and a half months since she was given a new city highly paid Director job and not a peep as to what she has accomplished.

      • In the PRIVATE SECTOR, where standards and PERFORMANCE matter, one usually MUST show results in 90 Days to 6 months…Why is the standard lower for Falco?
        Oh that’s right, she’s learning on the job… The only affordable housing she created was for herself at Pupie Raia’s building by getting a place for herself and she also was offered a place at 770 House… Next, watch her GROWN SONS get a few apts rather fast too…. Who wants to bet?

        • With that new six figure taxpayer funded job she was given to be on the City payroll as of January 1, 2022 I would think she would no longer be eligible to continue to get taxpayer subsidized housing.

          • In this town? HA HA HAAAAAA… When it comes to affordable housing, only the poor and Black have a hard time getting the new affordable units being built… The connected upgrade to Marineview and Church Towers.

  4. She accomplished not running for Council so her job is done. What more would you have her do? I want to know what Stick Romano accomplished to get his job.

  5. This is what Zimmer left us:
    A Ravi Russo alliance.
    Vanessa Falco with a cushy job ( someone said she’s already taking vacation days )
    SIX weed shops and smoking clubs
    5 unfinished parks
    Crumbling streets
    Roads unpainted and unpaved
    Homeless everywhere
    Rebuild by design moving at a snail’s pace…

    She started a fire then ran….

  6. Is this guy related to Fmr. City Councilwoman Falco ?
    Three and a half months since she was given a new city highly paid Director job and not a peep as to what she has accomplished.

  7. Carmelo Garcia runs around joking that he bought a poconos house with the money from the HHA/Zimmer / Lunch with Husband complaint settlement.
    What will Falco buy?

    • I think Carmelo Garcia may be using what ever money he has to pay his lawyers to keep him out of prison after his latest Paterson criminal charges.

  8. Did one time Mayor Anthony Russo or his estate ever pay off the thousands of fines the courts ordered him to pay after his crimes.

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