City Clerk Matthew Conlon Files High-Level Lawsuit – Trentonian
TRENTON – Matthew Conlon, the town clerk, claims in a new lawsuit to be the most aggrieved man in Trenton municipal government.
He names Mayor Reed Gusciora, current and former General Counsel Wesley Bridges and John Morelli, City Councilor Jerell Blakeley, and The Trentonian and his reporter, Isaac Avilucea, as indicted in an alleged high-profile and racially motivated conspiracy which, according to him, was a revenge. for speaking to federal authorities about his concerns about the functioning of municipal government in the capital.
He also named Robin Vaughn in the lawsuit, accusing him of berating him during a tense January 28 exchange at his office in which the West Ward councilor allegedly called the clerk “racist” and ” white supremacist “, according to the lawsuit. .
He pointed to an April 25 email in which he claimed Vaughn falsely filed a complaint accusing the clerk of threatening and pouncing on her on the day of the confrontation.
Conlon has hinted for months that a full-scale lawsuit against city officials was in the works. His lawyer filed a $ 3 million tort claim, foreshadowing what was to come.
Conlon vs. Trenton lawsuit by The Trentonian
He attributes much of his troubles to the Trentonian for having the courage to publish articles on his public affairs and those of city officials, although Conlon’s attorney David Castellani has signaled he will try to break through. the landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court in Times v. Sullivan.
The case offers journalists great protections to publish articles about public officials. And the lawyer will have to show “real nastiness” or that the newspaper intentionally published stories it knew to be false with reckless abandonment in order to sue for libel.
The lawsuit traces the alleged retaliation plan to an executive session on September 8, 2020, when the board met in private to discuss the alleged leak of a confidential memo from firefighting candidates.
Vaughn has called for an investigation into how the memo was disseminated in council legislative records.
Council members hoped to uncover a conspiracy behind the alleged information breach.
Mayor Reed Gusciora called the inquisition akin to McCarthy’s, referring to the Red Scare hearings of infamous Senator Joseph McCarthy.
A partial recording of the closed-door session was legally obtained and released by The Trentonian, accompanying a story about Conlon sending a flurry of disciplinary notices from Rice to city employees as part of the investigation.
He then falsely accused the Trentonian of wiretapping the meeting and asked the FBI to investigate. The lawsuit now claims that the meeting was “surreptitiously recorded and intentionally disclosed” to the newspaper.
In the lawsuit, he accuses former general counsel Morelli and Gusciora of committing “wiretapping violations” and claims that Morelli violated attorney-client privilege, and he refers to their infamous “dumb email exchange” f * ck “.
The ordeal of the executive session led to Morelli’s sacking, sparking a new legal confrontation between administration and council, as the mayor sought to overturn Morelli’s allegedly unfair dismissal.
He also alleges that the administration authorized an “illegal” background check to see if he graduated in law and passed the New Jersey bar, as he claimed on his resume.
Conlon threatened to sue Blakeley for questioning his credentials in a meeting last year.
Morelli was eventually replaced by Bridges, who is also making the mayor’s offer, according to Conlon.
The clerk claims that for months Bridges worked behind the scenes to undermine him.
During an executive session on February 25, Bridges allegedly presented reports from two outside law firms the city hired to investigate the clerk’s background and employee reports accusing Conlon of workplace bullying.
Conlon claims he did not receive disciplinary notice from Rice prior to the meeting.
The following month, according to Colon, Bridges introduced a resolution calling for his ouster and the removal of board chair Kathy McBride, the clerk’s greatest ally, according to the lawsuit.
Bridges also reportedly contacted state officials to complain about the way Conlon sat on requests for public documents and attempted to have him removed from his post as clerk for “failing to present a budget or plan a meeting, “says the suit.
Bridges declined to respond to the allegations on Thursday, saying he would do his “talk in court.”
Last year, the clerk tried to stop the city’s IT director, Joseph Rivera, from searching for emails requested by The Trentonian under New Jersey’s Sunshine Act by claiming Rivera would obstruct justice. if he did, because there would have been an ongoing FBI investigation.
The city hired an outside law firm which determined the emails were public records.
The emails released showed that Conlon had contacted at least five law enforcement agencies in different states, asking them to investigate The Trentonian and others for alleged computer crimes.
These allegations centered on allegations in the lawsuit that Blakeley was not permitted to use a publicly available educational database to verify that he had his law degree.
The clerk likened the National Student Clearinghouse’s check document to a “credit report,” the lawsuit said.
Blakeley provided the document to the Trentonian, who wrote a follow-up article confirming that Conlon had his JD after the clerk turned down several attempts by the newspaper to clarify questions about his background.
“Racial harassment against the plaintiff, a Caucasian city clerk, continued and included defendant Blakeley illegally invading the plaintiff’s privacy by misusing the National Student Clearinghouse,” Castellani wrote. “Racial harassment escalated when the defendant city councilor appeared in the complainant’s office without justification and accused him of being a white supremacist and a racist and demanded his resignation while refusing to leave his office.”
Conlon, who was hired in August 2020 with a salary of $ 122,000 to replace Dwayne Harris, has had an eventful run in the capital.
He resisted when confronted with his troubled past, which includes a history of skirmishes with former employers.
The Trentonian, relying on a cache of public documents obtained in New Jersey and Florida, discovered that Conlon was accused of stealing more than $ 100,000 from his disabled aunt, and that he made the allegations without basis and threatened with legal action against his colleagues during his previous pit stops.
One of those threats, in Longport Borough, earned Conlon a $ 22,000 settlement after he was not appointed clerk in 2018. A lawyer at the time urged the commissioners to settle with Conlon for avoid a lawsuit.
Court records showed that Conlon also filed a lawsuit against its owner, South Bellevue Properties in Atlantic City, following an apparent accident on February 27, 2018.
This lawsuit, brought by another lawyer, is still active, according to court records.