Mahwah Mayor Bill Laforet was found not guilty of a harassment charge filed by a township Department of Public Works employee, NorthJersey.com reported.
Central Municipal Court Judge Roy McGeady said Thursday morning that DPW worker Marc Bracciodieta’s story that Laforet elbowed him inside the Bagel Express in Mahwah “could not be corroborated, therefore necessary proof beyond a reasonable doubt could not be reached,” the report said.
Bracciodieta, who had accused Laforet of elbowing him at the Franklin Turnpike bagel shop in October, said he was not satisfied with the court’s ruling.
“I don’t care what the court says,” he told Patch after the ruling Thursday. “I know the truth, the mayor knows the truth, and there is a video out there that shows that.”
According to Bracciodieta, the bagel store could not retrieve a surveillance video of the incident from the shop’s video recording system, which he said he requested a few days after the alleged elbowing.
“I guarantee that if my version [of what happened in the store] was not at all true, that video would have shown up.”
Laforet has filed a harassment suit against Bracciodieta, who he claims drives past the Mahwah Sunoco the mayor owns shouting profanities, NorthJersey.com reported. Those charges have yet to be heard, the report said.
Laforet could not be immediately reached Thursday afternoon for comment.
Bracciodieta said the incident is not over. The township employee said he plans to lodge civil suits against the mayor, Mahwah Police Department, who he said failed to retrieve the video from the store, and Bagel Express.
According to attorney George Cotz, who is defending Bracciodieta in Laforet’s suit against him, the civil suit would seek monetary damages from the municipal government and bagel store for “violating [Bracciodieta’s] constitutional rights.” The fact that the bagel store video was not produced would be a part of that lawsuit, Cotz said. The suit would also claim that the mayor has harassed Bracciodieta while he is on the job, Cotz said.
The lawyer declined to say how much money Bracciodieta would seek in the lawsuit.
The civil suit cannot be filed until the charges pending against Bracciodieta have been settled, Cotz said.
Representatives from the police department declined to comment on the videotape.
The mayor and DPW worker have been at odds since last summer, when Laforet proposed privatizing the township’s Recycling Department. Bracciodieta was a vocal opponent of the plan, which was eventually voted down by the town council. Bracciodieta was later suspended for cursing at the police chief while talking with another township employee about the privatization plan at the police station.
NorthJersey.com ran an op-ed piece in December criticizing the two men for their ongoing feud, and saying they were “act[ing] like children,” for taking their dispute to court.”