Lawsuit: Ex-Employee Accuses Waretown Officials of Falsifying Timesheets, Sexual Harassment
WARETOWN – Sandra Pirozzi, a former administrative assistant employed in the Township of Ocean (Waretown) municipal government has resigned from her position and filed a lawsuit that makes a litany of allegations against her former supervisors. Pirozzi claims that she has faced “continued harassment” from Waretown Clerk / Administrator Diane Ambrosio and her husband Matthew Ambrosio, who is the director of the township’s department of public works after she reported a slew of violations of policy and state law, to include allegations of falsified timesheets and numerous policy violations.
Pirozzi claimed through her attorney that she faced the harassment and retaliation from supervisors after reporting conduct which she believed to be unlawful, and she sent an email letter to this effect to the members of the Ocean Township Committee, which included Mayor Tina Wetter, and Committeemen Ben LoParo and Daniel Collamer.
“My resignation is due to the continued harassment and retaliatory actions of my supervisors, Diane Ambrosio and her husband, Matt Ambrosio, after I complained of conduct I believed was unlawful,” she wrote in an email message that was sent to Ocean Township Committee members on March 13th, 2017.
She said that while employed with Waretown, she reported conduct that violated workplace policies and state law, to include smoking, “pornographic materials” she discovered in the bathrooms, “improper expenditures of public funds” and falsified timesheets – all of which is alleged to have occurred under the watch of the township DPW superintendent Matthew Ambrosio, and his wife, the Waretown clerk / administrator, Diane Ambrosio.
Pirozzi claims that Waretown Mayor Tina Wetter told her that the Ambrosios became aware of her allegations through herself and Township Attorney Gregory McGuckin, and that once they found out about what was reported, Pirozzi started facing retaliation from the husband-wife duo of Waretown’s municipal government.
Pirozzi wrote in her letter to the township committee members that “the harassment and retaliation worsened” following a March 2nd, 2017 executive session meeting where she claims to have complained of the alleged misconduct purportedly committed by her superiors.
She has since filed suit in Ocean County Superior Court, and is alleging claims under the state Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) and the state Law Against Discrimination for sexual harassment in connection with actions that allegedly took place during her employment with the township. Pirozzi is being represented by Kevin Costello of the firm Costello & Mains. The Costello firm has represented other Ocean County public employees in similar suits, such as the recent case out of Berkeley Township involving racist slurs.
Before filing suit, Pirozzi formally resigned from her position effective March 13th, and the amended complaint was filed on April 26th, 2017.
The former employee’s lawsuit went on to make detailed allegations regarding the conduct of both Clerk Ambrosio and her husband, Matthew Ambrosio, the DPW superintendent.
“Stolen” Taxpayer Money
In court filings, Pirozzi claimed that while employed as an administrative assistant she witnessed Mr. Ambrosio approve “false timesheets for workers appointed beneath him” in the public works department.
“Plaintiff opposed the practice of Superintendent Matthew Ambrosio knowingly and purposefully falsifying timesheets, thus stealing funds from the taxpayers of Ocean, for the benefit of the workers appointed beneath him,” Pirozzi’s attorney Kevin Costello wrote in the complain.
Pirozzi also claims that the Ambrosios used their position as Waretown officials to siphon public funds for their private benefit.
According to Pirozzi’s lawsuit, she witnessed the Ambrosios “…improperly utilizing public funds to purchase finished materials such as paint for private use on their residence.”
“Pornographic” Materials Left in Public Bathroom
In addition to the financial allegations, Pirozzi’s complaint alleged that “dozens of explicitly and graphic pornographic materials” were being left in the bathroom, purportedly by Ambrosio, according to Pirozzi’s complaint.
She claimed to have “… also complained to Township Attorney Gregory McGuckin regarding the fact that there was a proliferation and abundance of pornographic materials in open view in public bathrooms in the workplace.”
But when she reported the pornographic magazines, conditions at her township job only worsened, according to the Pirozzi lawsuit’s account of events.
Following her reports of the alleged misconduct, she claims to have been subjected to “adverse job actions” by the Ambrosios once they became aware of her reporting the violations, which are the subject of the lawsuit’s claims.
Naked Picture (WARNING, EXPLICIT LANGUAGE)
Perhaps the most serious allegations made by Pirozzi and her attorney involve allegations of sexual harassment against Waretown DPW Superintendent Matthew Ambrosio. Pirozzi’s attorney claimed in court documents that Mr. Ambrosio subjected her to sexual harassment by showing her explicit pictures of himself and making comments of a sexual nature.
Pirozzi is seeking damages and equitable relief on each of the lawsuit’s counts against the township and its officials. The township officials named in the suit are expected to deny the allegations.