Wyoming Borough, police officer locked in federal suit over alleged retaliation

By Joe Dolinsky - jdolinsky@timesleader.com | December 9th, 2015 3:25 pm

WYOMING — A police sergeant with over two decades of experience has filed suit against the borough, alleging its mayor “initiated a campaign of harassment” against him after he reported misconduct by the mayor’s girlfriend, who is also the borough manager, according to federal court documents.

Borough Police Officer Michael Fuller filed the complaint in federal court last month, alleging the borough and Mayor Robert J. Boyer violated his right to free speech by retaliating against him for blowing the whistle on misconduct by Borough Manager Tamra Smith.

The suit, filed Nov. 17 by Pittston attorney Cynthia L. Pollick, accuses Boyer of interfering with hours Fuller worked as an officer in Forty Fort and Luzerne boroughs, something the suit claims no other officer encountered.

Both Pollick and Boyer on Wednesday did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Messages left for Smith at the borough building and at her accounting office on Wyoming Avenue were not immediately returned.

The suit claims on or about Sept. 11, Boyer warned Fuller he may be disciplined due to his outside employment. However, the borough’s collective bargaining agreement does not restrict the hours worked at outside employment, according to the suit.

The suit goes on to allege Fuller was tasked with performing menial, out-of-the-ordinary jobs not typically assigned to other officers, including maintaining a log of businesses who failed to have their garbage out for collection.

Specifics regarding what misconduct Fuller reported, however, were not named in the suit.

The lack of concrete, fact-based accusations in Fuller’s claim led Scranton-based attorney Kathleen A. Walsh Monday to file a motion to dismiss the civil lawsuit in its entirety.

“(Fuller) does not state what the ‘official misconduct’ constituted,” Walsh wrote in the suit. “He does not state to whom he reported this alleged official misconduct, including to any borough official, he does not state when and how the defendants became aware of this reporting or alleged official misconduct and he does not state facts to support his allegation that his speech or reporting was as a citizen and not as an employee or that his complaint was made public.”

The suit claims Boyer’s actions caused Fuller to experience stress, mental anxiety and sleeplessness and demands a jury trial as well as cessation of the retaliatory conduct and costs related to attorney fees and other damages.

Officer reported “misconduct” by borough manager, who is also mayor’s girlfriend

By Joe Dolinsky


Reach Joe Dolinsky at 570-991-6110 or on Twitter @JoeDolinskyTL