New Rochelle Guilty, Federal Jury Awards Whistleblower $181,000 over Allegations of Ticket-Fixing & Drug Dealing at Courthouse

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strome.jpgThe City of New Rochelle has been ordered to pay $181,000 after a federal jury in New York City handed down a unanimous verdict in favor of Gina Amorosano-Lepore, a former City employee who alleged that City officials conspired to "punitively terminate her employment with a view towards silencing her and exacting retribution" for allegations of corruption, drug dealing, providing favors to known mafia associated and other criminal activity.

Those allegations are spelled out in detail in the complaint filed by Amorosano-Lepore in 2006.

"During the course of the past approximately two years, Plaintiff has repeatedly and non-disruptively expressed her concerns regarding pervasive, systemic corruption in the City Court. In that connection she has reported to the Defendants' and/or to their personal knowledge inter alia:"

a. The theft, with impunity, from the Court of in excess of $3,000 by Coleman and her Court Officer now-fiance,

b. Court staff s routine falsification of official records, with impunity, to cover-up the extensive number of traffic tickets made to "go away" by Court personnel for the benefit of, amongst others, known members of Organized Crime,

c. The unlawful receipt of gifts by Generoso as pay-offs for his dismissing such tickets, including his receipt of tickets to sporting events,

d. Criminal Mischief, in connection with the keying of an employee's car (Hayde Wolfe, Esq.), whose criminal history which Wolfe had covered-up was leaked to the media,

e. The City Marshal's conduct, with impunity, of a private practice of law from a Court office, where he uses (free of charge to him, but at taxpayers' expense) court staff, equipment and office supplies to prepare real estate closings, wills, and related legal documents for which is privately compensated,

f. The illegal possession and sale, with impunity, of controlled substances (including Vicodin and Valium) in the Court workplace, by Kane and other co-workers,

g. The unlawful retention, with impunity, on full pay of Generoso' s aunt, a part-time employee who has no entitlement to any benefits - - despite her extended absence from the workplace due to a medical condition - a theft of public moneys, and, inter alia,

h. Generoso and the City's on-going violation, with impunity, of the laws governing Civil Service, insofar as it affects the City Court.

The complaints states that in April 2005, Mr. Generoso,

...preferred civil service disciplinary charges against Plaintiff; suspended her for thirty days without pay; indefinitely suspended her from all of her job responsibilities; and retained for purposes of conducting a calculatedly sham administrative disciplinary hearing (the outcome of which has already been predetermined to end in Plaintiffs conviction/termination) an individual known to: a) uniformly render disciplinary determinations favorable to the local municipality paying him; b) conduct disciplinary hearings in an openly biased manner so as to deny the charged employee any semblance of a fair hearing; and to shield the employing municipality from damaging evidence that might otherwise be adduced by the charged employee in his/her defense....[and that] At the ensuing disciplinary hearing, and pursuant to Defendants' plan, materially false testimony was given against Plaintiff by, amongst others, Kane, Coleman, and Iarocci.

The trial hinged on the plaintiff's claim that:

...as a proximate result of Defendants' concerted, retaliatory conduct Plaintiff has been caused to suffer: punishment for the exercise of her rights as guaranteed by reason of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution; a selective prosecution in violation of her right to Equal Protection as guaranteed by reason of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution; financial damages; public embarrassment; public humiliation; public shame; public degradation; impairment of her professional reputation; emotional upset; anxiety; and otherwise has been rendered sick and sore.

In addition to the City of New Rochelle, the defendants in the case were:

Defendant JAMES GENEROSO (hereinafter "Generoso"), who is sued in his individual capacity only, at all times relevant to this complaint was the City Court Clerk in the City ofNew Rochelle, New York. As such he has final, discretionary decision making authority in the City of New Rochelle government regarding the preferral, prosecution, and final disposition of civil service disciplinary proceedings against
employees of the City Court.

Defendant VICTORIA L. KANE (hereinafter "Kane"), who is sued in her individual capacity only, at all times relevant to this complaint was the Deputy Chief Clerk for the City Court in New Rochelle.

Defendant BARBARA COLEMAN (hereinafter "Coleman"), who is sued in her individual capacity only, at all times relevant to this complaint was employed as a "Judge's Secretary" in the said Court.

Defendant MATTHEW IAROCCI (hereinafter "Iarocci"), who is sued in his individual capacity only, at all times relevant to this complaint was employed as the Personnel Director for the City ofNew Rochelle.

Generoso continues to hold a position in the City of New Rochelle Courthouse. The Jury unanimously found that Iarocci did not violate plaintiff's rights.

New Rochelle spokesperson Kathy Gilwit did not respond to a request seeking comment.

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