A ranking Hoboken police officer will retire as a captain, receive 321 accrued days, $40,000 for attorney’s fees, all without ever returning to work as part of a lawsuit settlement approved by the city council in February.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Then-Police Lt. Ranaldo Gonzalez filed a lawsuit in Hudson County Superior Court on March 3rd, 2020 against the city and then-Police Chief Kenneth Ferrante.
The court filing alleged that Ferrante “rules in a quasi-tyrannical fashion toward officers he personally doesn’t like” and had “unfettered and unheard of autonomy” when it came to police promotions and internal affairs investigations.
In March 2019, Gonzalez allegedly submitted a memo “about the exceedingly inappropriate conduct” of Ferrante, now the city’s public safety director, and his friend, Capt. Charles Campbell.
The city hired outside counsel and Campbell was ultimately able to retire in good standing, which Gonzalez, through his attorney Patrick Toscano, claims was a direct violation of the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office guidelines.
He further asserts that he faced retaliation by being “illegally, improperly, illegitimately and indecorously charged with a multitude of internal affairs charges.”
Gonzalez was suspended for 10 days in 2022 for chronic, excessive, or abusive sick time usage, according to the department’s annual major discipline report. This was issued after Ferrante had retired.
The court case largely flew under the radar, at least somewhat understandable given that it preceded the COVID-19 pandemic by a matter of days, and the council voted unanimously for a settlement (9-0) at their February 15th meeting of this year.
However, the parameters of the agreement were not disclosed on the city website, so it went largely unnoticed until readers contacted HCV about it following a report on a lawsuit filed by retired Police Sgt. Nicholas Burke making similar allegations.
The 26-page settlement was then obtained via a subsequent Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request.
The agreement indicates that Gonzalez was promoted to captain on March 1st, 2023 and he will have to submit an irrevocable letter of resignation dated exactly one year later.
“Plaintiff understands and agrees that Plaintiff will not serve as a Captain in any formal capacity, and will not report to headquarters or perform any law enforcement activities on behalf of the Hoboken Police Department after January 24, 2023 and prior to Plaintiff’s March 1, 2024 separation,” the settlement says.
He also had to give up his departmental access cards and police assigned equipment, as well as remove his personal belongings once promoted. He also can no longer use police lockers, their gym, vehicles, or have access to their computer network.
While the only explicit monetary value of the settlement is $40,000 for attorney’s fees, Gonzalez will receive a total of 321 accrued days upon his retirement becoming official.
The breakdown of those days is as follows: 88 vacation days and three personal days for 2023, 46 vacation days and four personal days in 2024, and 145 terminal leave days – five for each of his 29 years of service.
Gonzalez will finally be owed an additional 35 vacation days that he will earn between his last day of duty, January 24th, 2023, and his last day on the books: February 29th, 2024.
The total amount of money these accrued days will equal out to is not enumerated in the settlement, but Gonzalez is likely to walk away with upwards of $400,000, given that a police superior officers contract approved by the council at the end of 2020 has a starting salary of $162,833 for captains.
As is standard operating procedure in New Jersey, the settlement also indicates that the defendants have not admitted to any liability and/or any form of wrongdoing.
Furthermore, a confidentiality clause prevents Gonzalez, or anyone acting on his behalf, from proactively contacting the media about the settlement, and also comes with a non-disparagement clause for all parties.