NORTH BERGEN - A former North Bergen municipal employee says she was harassed and intimidated by Mayor and State Sen. Nicholas Sacco (D-N.J.).
Lydia Coleman leveled the charges in a complaint to the New Jersey Legislative Ethics Committee, and talked about the alleged incident in an exclusive interview with Kane In Your Corner. Coleman accuses Sacco of leaving a series of angry and intimidating voicemails after she declined his offer to drive him home from a bar in February of 2003. Kane In Your Corner has obtained a copy of alleged voicemails, on which a man who Coleman says is Sacco can be heard calling her a "retard" and a "scumbag."
"You don't seem to understand that everything is in my hands right now; everything is in my hands," the man says, adding, "You don't know what I'm capable of doing. You better get back (to me) and try to make amends for your scumbag behavior."
Coleman's attorney, Mario Blanch, says even though the voicemails don't contain a specific threat, the message is clear. "When he says you don't know what I'm capable of, that means something," he says. "That's not your Joe Schmo on the corner saying you don't know what I'm capable of. This is someone with a lot of power capable of doing a lot of things."
Following the incident, Coleman alleges her duties were reduced and she was subjected to a hostile environment.
Sacco declined to be interviewed. His spokesman, Paul Swibinksi, says, "We believe the tapes have been digitally altered. We believe the crude references that are allegedly being made by Nicholas Sacco are fraudulent."
Swibinski also says Coleman isn't a credible person, noting that among other things, she was arrested for assaulting her boyfriend's estranged husband, a charge that was later dropped. Coleman also admits she was once accused of insurance fraud but says that charge was expunged.
Last year, another former North Bergen employee, April Tricoli-Busset, sued the township, claiming Sacco harassed her. She eventually received a settlement of $90,000 for "emotional distress."