Settlement Reached in Alleged ‘Theft’ of Orange Police Officer’s Pension

Orange Nj City Hall Corruption
Retired police officer Brian Trovato chased down his unpaid pension check for 16 months before filing a lawsuit against the City of Orange. Photo by Darren Tobia / Jersey Digs.

A retired lieutenant for the Orange Police Department reached a settlement with the City of Orange for $10,500 over a pension payment that was withheld for 16 months.

The 20-year civil servant Brian Trovato accused several city officials — including Christopher Hartwyk, business administrator, and city attorney Aaron Mizrahi — of conspiring to conceal the whereabouts of the $3,022 that he was owed, the court filing states.

In the course of this yearlong runaround, Trovato filed an OPRA request that City Hall “flat out refused to respond in any manner whatsoever,” which is a violation of the Open Public Records Act.

“This begs the question, what could Orange be hiding?” the court filing states. “Whether it is indifference to their obligations, malicious acts they are attempting to cover up, or pure gamesmanship meant to force their own former retired Police Lieutenant to spend more of his own money.”

Orange Public Library Investigation
Following a Jersey Digs report last year about thousands in unpaid bills at the Orange Public Library, the entire staff was fired and the library has been closed ever since. Photo by Darren Tobia / Jersey Digs.

This settlement adds to a litany of legal trouble that has plagued Mayor Dwayne Warren’s administration over the last six years. Since 2016, the FBI has been investigating the goings-on at City Hall and has so far ensnared eight individuals with criminal charges ranging from fraud, conspiracy, and siphoning thousands in funds from a made-up children’s literacy program at the Orange Public Library, the Star-Ledger reported. Meanwhile, the public library has been closed for the past year, after the entire staff was fired only days after a whistleblower complaint appeared in Jersey Digs that the city was delinquent in thousands of dollars of unpaid bills.

Lee Seglem, the now-retired executive director of the State Commission of Investigation, which investigated misdoings in Orange City Hall, said that the city had “basically been turned into a cash-cow political fundraising machine,” the Star-Ledger reported.

Although charges have wrangled city officials within Warren’s orbit, the three-term mayor has so far evaded charges himself. Critics of Warren thought that a lawsuit filed last year by a city employee would be the smoking gun, but the lawsuit was withdrawn.

In that case, Vaughn Parchment, a lawyer who was hired as an assistant city attorney, made several bold claims about his time at City Hall, which ended with his firing about a year after he began employment.

Parchment was tasked with handling FBI subpoenas that detailed illegal activity of city officials, including bogus bids for services. After reporting these to Hartwyk, Parchment claims he became the target of Warren’s abuse.

The court filing also alleges that Warren had a re-election campaign team — comprised of Councilwoman Adrian Wooten, Raymond Winfield, Luis Copeland — that asked Parchment to conduct campaign research. Parchment refused on the grounds that such work would be illegal for a township attorney. Parchment was soon after fired.

Several attempts to reach both Parchment and his attorney for comment have failed.


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