The City of Jersey City could be forced to pay Police Lt. Kelly Chesler just over $626,000 in back pay and legal fees after beating a case that accused her of a no-show off-duty security detail in 2018, a judge ordered last week.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
An August 28th court order signed by Hudson County Superior Court Judge Joseph A. Turula enumerates that the city owes Chesler $626,211.09 in “reasonable costs” and attorney’s fees.
The payment is due to her counsel by September 28th, the order says. Real Garden State first reported the settlement earlier today.
Turula first decided that the city owed Chesler, who still has a pending federal lawsuit alleging she faced retaliation for reporting sexual harassment to her superiors, back pay and legal fees, in a decision rendered on May 29th.
At the time, he had not determined how much money the city owed their ranking officer, but the judge wrote that the record was clearly in Chesler’s favor.
“Defendant alleges that there is an issue of material fact as to Plaintiff’s intent in signing the vouchers for no show employees. When looking at the record, in a light most favorable to Defendant, the record is so one sided as that Plaintiff must prevail as a matter of law,” Turula ruled.
Jeffrey Garrigan, Chelser’s attorney in the matter, expectedly applauded the court’s ruling.
While the City of Jersey City has the option to appeal, their next steps remain unclear as officials declined to discuss pending litigation.
Back in June 2016, Chesler, along with three other Jersey City police officers, were charged by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office for no-show jobs and/or filing for excessive overtime related to off-duty details at the Pulaski Skyway.
Ultimately, in October 2018, Chesler, Police Officer Michael O’Neil, and retired Capt. Joseph Ascolese all had their charges dismissed and subsequently filed civil actions to recover legal fees and back pay.
Last month, the city council approved a $210,000 settlement for O’Neil, as HCV first reported.
Ascolese is also part of Chesler’s federal whistleblower case, which was filed after the city disbanded the JCPD’s motorcycle unit following a 2014 “Kane in Your Corner” report indicated several officers were abusing overtime.
Furthermore, Ascolese has offered to settle his civil case for $383,000, but the city has not responded to that request yet.