Reverberations from the 2010 resignation of Township Police Chief Mark Emann amid charges of inappropriate gun trading continue to be felt with the filing of a tort claim notice on behalf of Michael Henderson and Arthur S. Villaruz, the two policemen who resigned in connection with the case. The total amount claimed by the former officers is $2.5 million.
The tort claim was filed in January, 2012 against the Township of Princeton, the Princeton Township Police Department, The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO), and “unknown Princeton Township employees” by the law offices of Gina Mendola Longarzo of Chatham. MCPO spokesperson Case DeBlasio said yesterday, however, that they “are no longer involved with the case.”
Included in the total figure are the $40,000 and $30,000 amounts that Mr. Henderson and Mr. Villaruz, respectively, say was promised them as “compensation for terminal leave, vacation, and/or other time off.” It also covers property that had not yet been returned to Mr. Henderson and Mr. Villaruz at the time of the filing, as well as “the estimated amount of any prospective injury, damage, or loss.” The claim goes on to note that “the extent of the injuries is ongoing and will continue to be revealed and ascertained through continuing discovery.”
Late last week, Township Attorney Edwin W. Schmierer reported that “we have sent a complete inventory of all of their property to them and committed to return that property by April 30. We are ready to go and waiting to hear from them. The ball is in their court.”
“There are no payments due to them,” added Mr. Schmierer.
As of press time (Tuesday evening), neither Mr. Henderson nor Mr. Villaruz had come to claim their property.
Mr. Henderson, who was a Lieutenant at the time he stepped down, had been employed by the Princeton Township police department since 1985. Mr. Villaruz, a corporal, began working for the department as a civilian dispatcher in 1984.
The 21-page document issued by Ms. Longarzo’s office details prospective legal claims by Mr. Henderson and Mr. Villaruz, and the conversations, circumstances, and events that they believe will justify these claims.
The tort claim suggests, for example, that Mr. Henderson and Mr. Villaruz were both suspended and served with a statement of charges and notice of disciplinary action charges “as a result of the false information Chief Emann and Captain Buchanan [Mr. Emann’s successor as Police Chief] had both reported to the MCPO.” Their “official retirement” from the department was due, they say, “to the coercion and the promise that they would avoid criminal charges for failing to report the criminal actions of Chief Emann.”