PISCATAWAY, NJ—Two police officers, including a lieutenant, are suing Piscataway Police Department (PPD) Chief Thomas Mosier in separate lawsuits alleging discrimination, misconduct, and a toxic, hostile workplace.
The Chief is said to have discriminated against an immigrant detective and a lesbian lieutenant while ascending to the top job, and the harassment and retaliation allegedly continues on to the present day.
Accusations of crude comments and angry behavior abound in the complaints filed against the Township and Mosier, who is also a political player in town.
Piscataway Mayor Brian Wahler promoted Mosier to become Acting Chief in January 2020, and the role became permanent one year later.
Wahler, who also fills the role of the Piscataway’s Public Safety Director and occupies a high-ranking position with the Middlesex County Improvement Authority, did not respond to a request for a comment on the lawsuits.
Mosier was elected to the Piscataway Board of Education in 2008, and remained in office until 2015. He made an unsuccessful bid to return to the board, campaigning under the banner “Return Common Sense to the Piscataway Board of Education” in a 2017 contest as Wahler’s faction lost its grip on the school board.
His wife also works as the Chief of Staff to Piscataway’s State Senator: Bob Smith.
Mosier did not respond to our request for a comment about the three pending civil court cases, nor did attorneys for the Township at the firm, Hoagland Longo Moran Dunst & Doukas.
The Township Council declined to directly address several concerns raised by this reporter about the police department during their March 2 meeting, deferring to the Hoagland firm.
“I know you and me have gone back and forth on disputing facts, but I will say that I don’t think there’s any scandals in the police department,” said Rajvir Goomer, the Hoagland attorney frequently assigned to the Township’s Council meetings.
“Of course there is litigation and… the Township does not make any comments on pending litigation,” said Goomer.
But now there’s even more litigation than before, and still no substantive response from Piscataway Police, Township attorneys, or the community’s political leadership.
Lt. Constance “Connie” Crea is the latest to Piscataway cop to sue her boss, alleging Mosier made creepy, sexual comments about women, clearly favoring heterosexual women who he found attractive, and discriminating against her for being homosexual.
Crea, a 26-year PPD veteran, cited a number of incidents where she felt she was treated differently than other officers, as well as the alleged mistreatment of another homosexual officer by Chief Mosier, claiming the discrimination was part of a pattern in her March 10 complaint.
“My client has been discriminated against and harassed for a number of years based upon her gender and sexual orientation,” Crea’s lawyer, Nicholas P. Milewski, told New Brunswick Today.
“The conduct in which Chief Mosier has engaged has been reprehensible and unchecked and, as a result, morale in the Department is at an all time low,” Milewski continued, adding Crea is hopeful that her legal action “will be able to expose the truth about Mosier and how the Department is run.”
The lawsuit comes just eight days after Officer Alan Barboiu filed his second Superior Court case against the Township. That one came less than two months after his first case was filed in January.
One thing that Barboiu’s and Crea’s complaints have in common: they both say Mosier had a habit of grabbing his genitals and “moaning” while he was on the job.
Barboiu said Mosier would “grab his penis in a sexual manner while making sexual sounds like moaning” towards him, while Crea says the Chief typically “grabbed his genitals and rubbed them while making sexual moaning sounds in self-gratification,” after an attractive colleague walked past his office.
Crea’s complaint also says that another officer, John Oranchak, heard Mosier state that he wanted to transfer a female officer he found attractive, Meredith Robbins, into the traffic unit because “he only wanted her in the Division to stare at her in her yoga pants.”
Not having requested a transfer, Robbins was allegedly transferred into the unit, which was considered a favorable assignment to many officers, according to the complaint.
A theme in Crea’s complaint is the Chief’s alleged favoritism towards a married couple within the department for promotions and assignments.
Mosier is accused of declining to discipline Lt. Ray Pilch, a former Rutgers football player, after he brought a sex doll to work in 2016 and more recently violated the department’s COVID-19 virus safety policies.
Crea’s suit says morale was at an all-time low in the department during May and June of 2020, not because of the global pandemic or rising crime, but because of the internal politics of the department.
“The Chief’s overt favoritism for Lt. Pilch and Sgt. Pilch was causing controversy and dissension, knowing that there were going to be promotions in the very near future.”
Indeed, both wife and husband were promoted, becoming Captain and Lt. respectively.
Crea also took issue with the department’s decision to highlight the couple’s simultaneous promotions on International Women’s Day, while ignoring the other female employees of PPD.
Crea’s complaint notes that Lt. Michelle Pilch and Officer Meredith Robbins were the only two exempted from required emergency shifts, and allowed to work from home as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded.
She also leveled a stunning allegation about the conduct of Ray Pilch on Mosier’s first day heading up the Traffic Division in 2016.
“On or about January 20th, Officer R. Pilch placed an offensive naked female blow-up sex doll in the divided glass window which separates the Traffic Division offices. The doll was approximately 3-4 feet in height,” reads Crea’s complaint.
“Mosier told R. Pilch to remove the sex blow up doll and never disciplined him at all. In fact, Mosier took no action in response to R. Pilch’s misconduct,” concludes the complaint.
The lieutenant also alleges Ray Pilch was given a pass by Mosier after failing to follow her order to wear a facemask upon entering the department’s headquarters.
The issue came to a head at a subsequent supervisors meeting, according to her complaint.
“Instead of supporting Plaintiff and accepting her report of officer misconduct, the Chief simply told Plaintiff to ‘be the bigger person,'” reads her case.
“Plaintiff was affirming the Chief’s order to drop the report of misconduct by saying OK, when the Chief raised his voice and yelled at Plaintiff ‘Not another word, it’s done! Talk to me later in private.'”
Perhaps the last straw for Crea was when she was ousted from her role as liason to the PPD’s Domestic Violence Crisis Intervention Team in December, “for no reason,” according to her lawsuit.
Crea’s lawsuit also notes she was excluded from the hiring process, unlike other lieutenants, and passed over for an opportunity to represent the department at a memorial for victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Barboui’s first suit alleged he was discriminated against for being an immigrant, and that he was facing retaliation for being a whistleblower under the state’s Consciences Employee Protection Act.
Barboiu says Mosier directed the phrase “you damn foreigners” to him, and made fun of his accent.
Barboiu is a Romanian-American who became a US citizen in 2003, and served six years in the United States military after being homeless. He joined Piscataway Police Department in 2010 after working at police departments for neighboring Dunellen and New Jersey’s Human Services Department.
The prior chief gave Barboiu an honorable assignment in January 2019, sending him to the Detective Bureau, where he got to work on serious cases. But as Mosier worked his way up the ranks, Barboui’s career took a turn for the worse.
After being kicked out of the detective bureau by Mosier, Barboiu says he was asked to speak with internal affairs investigators in the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO).
“Plaintiff was told by the IA investigators that the investigation involved allegations that Chief Mosier was removing minority officers out of the Detective Bureau as soon as he (Mosier) became Chief,” reads the January 6 lawsuit.
Barboiu, who Mosier attempted to suspend late last year following a sexual harassment complaint from a dispatcher, has filed two different lawsuits against his bosses: one challenging the proposed 45-day suspension against him, and another alleging he was discriminated against and targeted for being an immigrant and a whistleblower.
Barboui says the Chief had him charged with a criminal offense based on “dubious” claims from the dispatcher. One week later, “the Middlesex County Prosecutor downgraded the charges and remanded the matter to Piscataway for administrative personnel proceedings,” according to his complaint.
But Mosier had e-mailed the entire department to announce the criminal charges, and failed to update the staff when the matter was downgraded.
Barboiu says in the litigation that several of his fellow officers warned him that Mosier had it out for him.
Officer Scott Edelman warned Barboui “to be careful around Mosier because he is vindictive and malicious,” reads his first lawsuit.
Similarly, that complaint speaks of a warning from Officer Robbins: “Mosier told her to stay away from Barboiu, that he will bring her down; and that he (Mosier) is creating a paper trail because he (Mosier) wants the Plaintiff fired.”
Another patrolman, Officer Mark Portnoy, allegedly told Barboui that he overheard Mosier talking to Sgt. Phil Zmuda “and that Lt. Mosier is sending Sgt. Zmuda to follow him and keep an eye on him,” concluding: “Another indication Plaintiff was singled out for harassment.”
Ultimately, both plaintiffs are seeking compensation for Mosier holding back their careers and causing them distress, as well as court costs and attorney’s fees.
Lawsuits brought by current and former employees can be a significant cost to municipalities, a cost that would, in the case of Piscataway, be split between the taxpayers of several towns who are members of the Central Jersey Joint Insurance Fund (CJJIF), including Edison, Sayreville, Franklin, and about a dozen more. If previous cases are any indication, it could take years to resolve the matters, and costs could be steep.
As we reported, the City of New Brunswick racked up more than $2 million on lawyers and settlements defending against a pair of cases brought by cops who alleged discrimination and corruption in their department. Most of those costs were spread among a different joint insurance fund: the Middlesex County Municipal Joint Insurance Fund (MCMJIF).
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.