One of the allegations in Hillside Township’s (Union County) former police chief Robert Quinlan, who recently settled with Hillside for $450,000, was that:

On September 18, 2010, Township police officers stopped a motorist who began to object to the actions of the officers. From the scene, the motorist contacted Mayor [Joseph] Menza via cell phone to request his assistance. Moments later, Mayor Menza arrived at the scene while Township police officers were issuing summonses to the motorist and engaged one of the officers about the circumstances of the stop.

In a November 19, 2014 e-mail, present Police Chief Louis Panarese confirmed that the Mayor did arrive at the scene but “did not, in any way, interfere with the stop” but actually helped the matter by “calm[ing] the complainant down, deescalating the situation.”

I submitted an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request to the Hillside for the traffic summonses that were issued against the motorist, which are on-line here.  They identify the recipient of those summonses as Lee P. Toucheque who is apparently the same person who, according to press reports, was arrested in February 2013 for allegedly extorting $10,000 from a Berkeley Heights woman.

Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project. Please send all comments to [email protected]