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Town Official Failed to Probe Bias Complaint – Court Papers Detail Firehouse Case

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The Paramus borough administrator who was named as a defendant in a Secaucus civil discrimination lawsuit against municipal officials and the police and fire departments failed to investigate claims that firefighters there harassed two gay men, according to recently released court transcripts.

As the Secaucus municipal administrator and equal opportunity officer at the time, Anthony Iacono would have been responsible for examining harassment claims and ensuring that proper discipline was carried out. But as part of his testimony under oath, Iacono who now works in Paramus said he did not investigate allegations that municipal firefighters continually harassed Peter deVries and Timothy Carter.

The men lived adjacent to a firehouse on the north side of Secaucus and two weeks ago won a lawsuit against the town. As part of the verdict, a Hudson County jury awarded them $2.8 million.

Their lawyer, Neil Mullin, said instead of disciplining the firefighters, Iacono facilitated their behavior by allowing the firehouse to reopen after deVries and Carter’s home was attacked.

“Iacono did nothing,” Mullin said. “He had no explanation, no excuse.”

Iacono, who was a Secaucus volunteer firefighter when the harassment occurred, testified that he did not investigate because he was afraid to interfere with investigations being conducted by the police and the attorney general. Before the final verdict, his name was dropped from the lawsuit.

It isn’t Iacono’s first brush with legal concerns. He served as the Secaucus municipal administrator for about 10 years until last year, when Paramus hired him to fill its long-vacant administrator post. Prior to that, he was involved with a Secaucus union, which had fallen under federal oversight after being linked to organized crime.

Six years ago, Iacono was permanently barred from the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union Local 69 after a federal monitor learned of his ties to an alleged Genovese crime family associate.

Also, Secaucus Councilman Michael Gonnelli has filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing Iacono of threatening to harm his family.

Paramus officials who interviewed Iacono for his administrator job have stood by him. Councilman Dennis Niland did not respond to calls for comment, but in the past has lauded Iacono for his work and credentials.

“This is the first time I’ve gotten some of the details,” said Councilman Richard LaBarbiera, referring to the recent court ruling. “I’m not comfortable commenting.”

Assemblywoman Connie Wagner, a former Paramus councilwoman who helped select Iacono, would not comment Saturday. Mayor James Tedesco could not be reached for comment.

(c) 2008 Record, The; Bergen County, N.J.. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

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