The West New York Board of Commissioners approved a $30,000 settlement with Michael Acosta, an openly gay cop who is also the son of former deputy mayor Silvio Acosta, for a discrimination suit filed in July 2014.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Approved at Thursday night’s meeting after executive session, the board passed a measure that says “the Town and its employees admit no wrong doing [sic] or liability” and that “the plaintiff shall provide to the Counsel for West New York a satisfactory release and closing documents … ” before the settlement can be paid.
The lawsuit, filed in Hudson County Superior Court on July 22nd, 2014, alleges that Acosta – hired on February 10th, 2005 – is the only openly gay police officer in the West New York Police Department.
He claims that current Police Director Robert Antolos passed him over for overtime shifts, filed frivolous internal affairs complaints against him and made it a point to exhibit his tattoos to intimidate him all because of his sexual orientation.
Acosta further alleged that Antolos advised PBA president Thomas Mannion to threaten him with “an Attorney General investigation” if he tried to make a formal complaint against the director.
Back when the lawsuit came to light in September 2014, residents and town officials, including Mayor Felix Roque, spoke out in support of Antolos.
Antolos received a contract extension through the end of 2016 last month, a measure that was unanimously approved by the board of commissioners.
Through the suit, Acosta sought back and front pay, compensatory and emotional distress damages, reasonable costs, together with attorney’s fees, punitive damages and such other and further relief that this Court may deem equitable.
While the $30,000 figure was not stated outright in the resolution, multiple sources, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said it would have likely cost the town at least $70,000 to $80,000 to litigate the case, so the insurance carrier opted to settle instead.
This isn’t the first time West New York has settled a court matter involving Michael Acosta.
Back in June 2014, the town settled a sexual harassment lawsuit with a former Office of Emergency Management employee for $97,000.
The suit alleged that Acosta used police equipment to stalk and sexually harass the man on numerous occasions, though as in the latest settlement, neither side agreed to committing any acts of wrongdoing.
Acosta’s Roseland attorney, Gerry Resnick, did not return a message left with his office this afternoon.
The resolution and lawsuit can be read here.