The second of two captains who as part of Mayor Daryl Finizio’s transition into office has sued the city, charging that the city has failed to agree to the terms of the settlement.
Michael Lacey, 50, says in the suit that he has suffered “severe economic losses and mental anguish and emotional distress” as well as diminished pension benefits. Lacey also accuses the city of libeling him, saying the at Foxwoods Resort Casino did not accurately reflect his investigation.
William Dittman, another captain who retired from the police department, has . Dittman charges in this suit that the city made false representations to incite him to retire and was unable to meet the obligations set forth in the contract.
The city is also being , president of the New London Police Union. Lynch charges that Chief Margaret Ackley has acted in a retaliatory manner due to his public criticisms of her.
On three occasions, the City Council has for Dittman, Lacey, and Marshall Segar, the former deputy chief whose contract was also severed.
Breach of contract
Lacey, who is represented by attorney Morris J. Busca, said he had worked for the department since August of 1984 and became a captain in 1995. He said he was approached by city attorney Brian Estep and Personnel Coordinator Bernadette Welch on Jan. 5 to discuss a severance agreements.
Lacey said he had planned to stay with the department for 15 more years to enhance his pension benefits, but agreed to retire on the understanding that funding was available. The retirement agreement stated that it would pay Lacey for accrued compensatory, vacation, and sick time as well as 54 monthly payments of the difference between his salary and pension benefits through the Municipal Employees’ Retirement System. It also promised family health insurance, as provided in the union’s collective bargaining agreement, with no cost sharing through the end of January of 2017, at which point Lacey and his wife would be included on the city’s supplemental Medicare insurance until Lacey became eligible for Medicare.
Lacey said the checks from the city ceased on February 9.
The lawsuit names the city as well as Finizio, Welch, and Ackley in their individual and official capacities. It charges breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, promissory estoppel, violation of Connecticut wage laws, and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
The lawsuit also charges libel and a separate charge of breach of contract related to this accusation.
Lacey says he conducted an internal investigation into allegations against former police officer Joshua Bergeson, who was accused of slapping a woman at the Shrine nightclub at Foxwoods Resort Casino in April of 2009. Finizio fired Bergeson earlier this year, citing more recent incidents.
He said he also notified Welch and former city manager Martin Berliner about witness allegations of inappropriate behavior by former city councilor Michael Buscetto III. Lacey says Ackley “initiated her own personal and unauthorized investigation” into Buscetto and added information from this inquiry to Lacey’s file.
Lacey said he was not directed to investigate Buscetto, but that the additions to the file include accusations by Ackley that Lacey did not want to act on officer complaints about Buscetto. These included an e-mail concluding, “Based on the unsigned statement, missing statements, missing tape recordings etc. the investigation has the appearance of being tainted.”
Lacey says he complained to Welch after the statement appeared in the New London Patch and . He says Welch agreed to issue a retraction or clarification, which he saw on her computer, but that it was never sent out.
The second breach of contract charge says the city violated a section of the retirement agreement stating that neither Lacey nor the city would issue “false, negative or derogatory information” about either party.
Lacey is seeking the fulfillment of the retirement agreement plus interest, damages, and attorney’s fees, which he says will amount to over $15,000. He is also requesting a jury trial on the charges.