Waretown Cops Allege Nepotism & Political Retaliation

WARETOWN – 5 veterans of the Ocean Township (Waretown) police department have filed a lawsuit in Ocean County Superior Court alleging that after they didn’t back multiple nepotism hires and supported independent candidates during the township committee election, the officers faced retaliation from department superiors along with Mayor Dennis Tredy and Deputy Mayor Tina Wetter, both Republicans.

They further allege that the department violated its own policies and collective bargaining agreements by passing over otherwise qualified officers for promotions to promote less-than-qualified officers to supervisory positions that were favored by elected officials, in addition to hiring family members of existing township employees and contracted professionals.

Waretown police officers (including Risden) receive awards at an Ocean Township Committee meeting.

Waretown police officers (including Risden) receive awards at an Ocean Township Committee meeting. Mayor Tredy is center.

The suit was filed by Detective Andrew Risden, who is also the president of Ocean Township PBA local 371. Risden is joined as as plaintiff by colleagues Steven Mandarine, Michal Rogalski, Hermogenes “Dennis” Jarin, and Michael Ward, all of whom are represented by attorney Stuart Alterman in the civil action, which is seeking compensatory and punitive damages under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act.

Sergeant Jarin, as an Asian-American, is also suing under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination.

Jarin, Risden, and Lt. George Thompson

From left to right: Jarin, Risden, and Lt. George Thompson

As we have seen time and time again, one party rule in Ocean County has allowed certain well-connected insiders to cash in at taxpayer expense – as the political pull of machine bosses has allowed the gears of local government to be greased with favors, influence peddling and public jobs for unqualified “friends and family.”

Waretown appears to be no exception to this trend.

According to 73 pages of a verified complaint and jury trial demand filed with the court, it all began when Forked River resident Michael DePasquale submitted an employment application to the department, and the chief of police instructed Sergeant Michael Rogalski to complete the background investigation on him – despite background checks normally being the duty of the detective bureau.

Mr. DePasquale, according to the court documents, cited references on his employment application that:

“..are all Republican leaders in Ocean County.”

With references like that, Mr. DePasquale quickly secured an interview with Mayor Tredy for the position of dispatcher, and was later offered a position as a full time police officer, despite having no previous experience in law enforcement. According to court documents, DePasquale is “the nephew of the lead attorney for the township’s law firm,” who is none other than Ocean County GOP finance committee chairman and municipal attorney Jerry Dasti.

MayorTredy

Mayor Tredy

Jerry Dasti

Jerry Dasti, Esq.

Rogalski

Sgt. Rogalski

After starting the investigation, Sergeant Rogalski did not recommend the hiring of the Forked River resident. The township committee hired DePasquale anyway, reportedly without waiting for the background check to be completed.

From here, the story takes an even wilder turn.

After the township committee voted to hire him, Rogalski conducted an additional interview with DePasquale following a ceremony at town hall after the committee voted to hire him. “At this time, Michael DePasquale admitted that he never wanted to be a police officer, drank alcohol on a nightly basis and used marijuana on a regular basis,” asserts Rogalski’s attorney.

DePasQuale

Michael DePasquale

Sergeant Rogalski then attests to have retrieved a quantity of marijuana from DePasquale’s residence in Forked River. No record exists of DePasquale ever being charged for possession of marijuana as a result of the encounter.

Rogalski then claims to have advised both the chief of police and supervisor Lieutenant George Thompson of what he found, but they allegedly directed him to continue working on the background check despite the discovery.

When Rogalski finally completed the background check on would-be Officer DePasquale, he failed. Segeant Rogalski’s final background report cited:

“…drug use, numerous inconsistencies in the application, and the smell of alcohol on his breath when being fingerprinted.”

Despite things not working out at Waretown, Mr. DePasquale landed on his feet,  securing other public employment – with records revealing that he is currently employed at the Ocean County Utilities Authority, a well-known GOP patronage pit responsible for treating the sewage of Ocean and southern Monmouth counties.

His job title with the OCUA is “utility worker” and for that he earns $31,470.40 per year, according to payroll records.

Board members of the Ocean County Utilities Authority, many of which are Republican leaders.

Board members of the Ocean County Utilities Authority, many of which are Republican leaders. Parker center.

The OCUA is run by the ever-capable leadership of former Lacey Township mayor John Parker, a habitual nepotist who has clogged up the pipes of the county’s sewage utility with a backlog of political cronies and relatives, all on the public dole.

“Maybe they don’t like you next door.”

"Next door" Located next door to the police department is the office of Ocean Township's municipal government and where the township committee meets.

“Next door” Located next door to the police department is the office of Ocean Township’s municipal government and where the township committee meets.

Tensions began to escalate between the plaintiffs and the Republican administration in Waretown following these incidents, and even led to the township committee considering merging the powers of Chief of Police and Mayor – with the ordinance eventually being tabled, after a contentious meeting.

Mayor Tredy, according to the officers, made several visits to police headquarters that resulted in confrontations, according to sworn statements made in court filings.

The officers said that Waretown’s police chief, Gerhard Frenz eventually remarked “Maybe they don’t like you next door,” when asked about passing over otherwise eligible officers for a promotion.

Another Waretown officer, William Sneddon, then allegedly snitched on Risden to Tredy & Wetter when they were up for re-election that Detective Risden would be voting for independent candidates Daniel Collamer and Gary Cottrell.

Risden claims that his support of Collamer (who actually won) and Cottrell led to further retalliation from officials, as explained in additional detail in the suit.

More Nepotism In Waretown?

The second incident of purported nepotism in Waretown police hiring came over “concerns about nepotism” brought forward by Risden in his capacity as PBA president. Despite the objections, a Nicholas McGavin was hired as the department’s 2nd K9 officer. McGavin is the nephew of Waretown administrator / clerk Diane Ambrosio, who is the wife of Ocean Township Public Works Superintendent Matthew Ambrosio. Risden further pleaded with officials to no avail that the hiring would escalate “political tensions” within the police department.

Clerk Ambrosio and Police Chief Frenz

Clerk Ambrosio and Police Chief Frenz

Nicholas McGavin, a relative of Clerk Ambrosio.

Nicholas McGavin, a relative of Clerk Ambrosio.

After the incidents, the officers allege that Waretown officials “…caused, condoned and/or ratified unlawful retaliation” against them, for “objection to the unlawful promotion practices, procedures and policies” put in place at the place of their employment.

The Dasti law firm, which represents Ocean Township, has yet to file a formal answer to the complaint, which demands a jury trial on all triable counts.

The case has been assigned docket number OCN-L-428-16 and is currently before Judge Craig L. Wellerson, who interestingly enough was a former partner in Dasti’s law firm, which represents several municipalities in the county.

Court records show that Waretown has yet to file a formal answer to the complaint, however they will likely contest the allegations further in court, which have yet to be tried.

You can view a full copy of the lawsuit by clicking here.

 

 

 

Gavin Rozzi

Gavin Rozzi is the editor of Ocean County Politics and a lifelong Ocean County resident, residing in Lacey Township. Gavin's work centers on the intersection of money and politics in Ocean County, with a focus on public corruption. In 2017 he created New Jersey's first statewide freedom of information portal, OPRAmachine.com. He can be reached via email at editor@politicsoc.com or via phone at (732)-504-3636 ext. 1 or on encrypted phone / text app Signal.

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18 Responses

  1. Ditzzeechick says:

    these old turds need to step aside…our tax dollars at work…..

  2. Waretown resident says:

    How could the administrator and the public works director be married – isn’t that a conflict of interest?

  3. TheInCrowd says:

    Chief Frenz fought the DePasquale hiring tooth and nail. As soon as they got the info they needed to fire him, they did. I believe it was the day after the committee hired him

  4. Father Paul says:

    Thought that this type of infighting only happened in Stafford.

  5. Mercy Otis Warren says:

    Great article; this stuff is hilariously absurd. It’s the way of the world I guess and it is that much easier when you are spending other people’s money!

  6. Cry baby's says:

    It amazing how you say Waretown Cops! You mean 5 of 19 that believe they are entitled to the town vault with unlimited authority. Them the community masters and not the servants. You want to blame it on the town because these 5 cry baby’s are going against not just the new guys but all of the other cops. We’ve got news for you, it ain’t over by getting rid of this committee. You work for the public, we the people! You want too run this town then may I suggest you try being one of the people we see fit to manage this. You enforce the law, they will run the office. These 5 should not influence our opinion of the good police and our township managers they don’t have any loyalty to anyone and the other cops shouldn’t worry about what these 5 have too say about you. And the ex cop that thinks this town didn’t hire his son cause he was gay, based on these 5 they apparently like pu$$@?.

    • Coconut Jack says:

      Sounds like a typical waretown piney response. Keep voting in RepubliCONS and this is what you’re going to get. hypocrites? you betcha. Tina wetter was catastrophic when we had her in Beachwood, and I hear she’s doing a real number on Waretown. These police officers are brave for taking on the corrupt republican regime

      • Cry baby's says:

        Well they lost the first part. Let’s see how they do. The only losers bigger than these 5 in this town are you democrats.

        • laceylady says:

          Wow, you must be an anointed, lucky member of the “friends and family plan” in Waretown.

          • GUEST says:

            That “plan” is rampant in certain R towns in good old OC.

          • Former republican says:

            Nepotism and pay for play is a way of life in Ocean County, whether it’s coming from Georgie boy, any one of our pathetic Ocean County Freeloaders or these corrupt little towns like stafford, lacey and toms river. They are all on the payroll.

      • guest says:

        Wow and I thought Toms River was the bastion of nepotism, mixed with the family and friends hiring plan. Oh wait, they are.

  7. YouSuck says:

    Waretown is a Joke, it has completely gone to shit. The cops have nothing better to do then drive around and harass people. Manderine is a joke. He had it out for my brother. Back when you could go riding out in the woods,he pulled my brother over and ended up giving him a dui. Why? Simply because he didn’t like him. Jerk off. Go find something better to do then sit around. No one owes you shit.

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