JERSEY CITY - Did someone at the Jersey City Police Department falsify notes by a former officer, even forge his signature, all in an effort to discredit him and force him off the job? The two versions of the notes will be key evidence in the discrimination lawsuit filed by Frank DeFazio, which goes to trial next week.
In an exclusive interview with Kane In Your Corner, DeFazio says, “There were a total of 39 or 40 items that were rewritten or deleted from my personal notes,” adding the changes “tried to paint me as paranoid.”
DeFazio wrote the notes over a period of two months in 2012, to document what he called a “hostile work environment” at Jersey City’s Emergency Services Unit. He eventually submitted a copy to Jersey City’s equal opportunity officer. Days later, he says he was relieved of duty. According to the lawsuit, supervisors told him that a sergeant, Clyde Banks, had received a copy of DeFazio’s notes anonymously, and that the content was so disturbing it called his fitness for duty into question. DeFazio was forced to take a psychological exam, which he passed. He was reinstated.
In 2014 DeFazio retired, and sued Jersey City. His attorney, Theodore Campbell, alleges DeFazio is the victim of age discrimination, saying ESU supervisors were “trying to get rid of the older members” so they could “have their way with the younger guys (who would) follow blindly”.
It was not until last year, when the JCPD released its copy of DeFazio’s notes in connection with the lawsuit, that DeFazio realized how extensively that version of his notes had been tampered with. DeFazio says alternations include everything from modified punctuation to deletion of entire paragraphs. His most explosive allegation: that someone at the JCPD even forged his signature.
“On my personal notes, it’s typed ‘Francis DeFazio’, no signature,” he says. “On the (JCPD copy), it’s signed, ‘Frank DeFazio’.”
DeFazio’s battle with the JCPD began around 2009, when he says he started complaining to supervisors about the changing culture at ESU. Some officers on the midnight shift had begun wearing patches on their uniforms, identifying themselves as “Three Percenters”, a right-wing group the Anti-Defamation League calls “anti-government”. DeFazio says sergeants on the Emergency Services Unit encouraged the behavior and even handed out the patches. DeFazio says one sergeant also made unauthorized modifications to his department-issued assault rifle that made the weapon illegal to possess in the United States.
“These guys were out of control,” DeFazio says. “They truly felt untouchable.”
In 2013, Jersey City police finally acknowledged the presence of the “Three Percenter” movement in the department, and announced it had put a stop to it. But DeFazio says the retaliation against him continued. A Jersey City spokesperson declined to comment for this report since DeFazio’s case is in litigation.