Cape May City, New Jersey

September 29, 2016
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Cape May City Council Takes No Action on Pascal Proposed Settlement
Release Date: September 22, 2016

CAPE MAY, N.J. – The City Council has decided not to take any action at this time in connection with a proposed settlement with former Cape May Police Officer Steven Pascal.  The matter was scheduled for a closed session discussion at the September 20, 2016 City Council meeting with no action slated for the agenda.
This lawsuit names the City of Cape May and Captain Robert Sheehan as defendants based on alleged acts of harassment, discrimination and retaliation that occurred within the Police Department and without knowledge of the City Administration.  Although the parties have worked hard in trying to settle this matter before trial, and a tentative settlement agreement had been negotiated, the City was informed that Captain Sheehan’s attorney, Christopher Gray, inappropriately leaked the tentative settlement agreement and a stipulation of dismissal that was not to be filed or released until all matters were settled according to the instructions provided by Mr. Pascal’s attorney, Sebastian Ionno. 
In addition to the leaked settlement agreement and stipulation of dismissal, Mr. Gray published a press release prior to the City Council meeting on September 20, 2016, falsely stating that Captain Sheehan is not part of the settlement and was voluntarily dismissed from the litigation weeks ago.  He also falsely stated that the decision to terminate Mr. Pascal was made by the governing body of the City of Cape May, Bruce MacLeod and Solicitor Anthony Monzo during the tenure of Chief Sorantino.  The termination charges were initiated and signed by Chief Sorantino and the City merely acted on her recommendations as well as Captain Sheehan’s Internal Affairs Investigation Report.
Notwithstanding all of the discussion and social media ramblings, accusations and false statements provided with an agenda of shifting responsibility for the lawsuit from the Police Administration to the City Administration, the City Council is conducting an objective review of the merits of the case and the wisdom of settlement, but has not yet reached a decision as to whether the proposed settlement is in the best interest of the City and its taxpayers.
Mr. Ionno, upon learning that Mr. Gray and Captain Sheehan leaked the terms of the settlement before the City Council had even seen it and misrepresented the nature of the lawsuit, immediately sent a letter to the attorney representing Captain Sheehan in the Pascal litigation, John Grady.  Mr. Ionno demanded a return of the original stipulation of settlement for Captain Sheehan that was to be held in abeyance and not filed with the Court until the settlement was finalized, at which time there would be stipulations of dismissal filed for both Captain Sheehan and the City of Cape May.  He also characterized Mr. Gray’s press release as containing “patently false information” which “has jeopardized the settlement in this matter”.  Mr. Ionno reiterated that he did not authorize Mr. Gray’s press release nor any social media postings and that he would be preparing a new stipulation of dismissal for all defendants so it is clear that Captain Sheehan is not being dismissed outside of the settlement, assuming City Council approves same. 
As to the nature of the litigation, the City Solicitor’s office handled the Departmental hearing and a recommended decision was made by Retired Superior Court Judge Richard J. Williams, J.S.C. to uphold the request of the Police Department to terminate Mr. Pascal as a police officer.  Mr. Pascal sued the City and Captain Sheehan, claiming wrongful termination, harassment, discrimination and retaliation based on conduct he claims was not properly addressed by the police administration.

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