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Judge Orders Bloomfield Attorneys Off Military Leave Cops' Proceedings

Patrol officers' attorney said town lawyers had conflicts of interest stemming from relationship with internal affairs officer who brought on charges.

Judge Orders Bloomfield Attorneys Off Military Leave Cops' Proceedings

A Superior Court Judge has barred Bloomfield’s township attorneys from working on the charges against the two police officers accused of falsely claiming military leave time.

On Monday, Jan. 6, Judge Patrick Arre ruled that Bloomfield’s Director of Law, attorney Brian Aloia and Assistant director of Law Steven Martino could not take part in the legal proceedings against the officers. 

Bloomfield police Patrol officers McCracken and Cartagena were accused of falsely claiming time taken off from their police jobs as time spent serving in the military as Air Force reservists. The officers were suspended without pay on Dec. 4 in advance of hearings about their jobs.

As of Wednesday, both McCracken and Cartagena are back on the force. Their attorney Catherine Elston said that the township has reduced the charges against them and are now seeking a minor penalty, meaning they are no longer in danger of losing their jobs.

McCracken and Cartagena’s attorney, Catherine Elston, said that Aloia and Martino were found to have conflicts of interest related to accepting referrals from Bloomfield Police Department Internal Affairs Division Detective John G. Sierchio, who she said instigated the charges.

According to legal documents filed by Elston, Aloia and Martino are sponsors of Public Safety United, a lobbying group for which Sierchio serves as President. Public Safety United’s website, Elston contends, refers visitors to Aloia and Martino’s legal practices.

In addition, Elston said that Martino’s law firm, Iacullo Martino, LLC, made a $500 campaign contribution towards Sierchio’s unsuccessful 2011 bid for a seat in the state Assembly.

Aloia did not respond to a message left at his office requesting comment.

Elston said she is expecting that township council would appoint new attorneys this week.  

“They’ve dragged their names through the mud,” Elston said. “They deserve full vindication and we’re not going to stop until that happens.”

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