A veteran of the New Jersey State Police has filed a lawsuit that claims his career was derailed by two of his superiors because he did not sign a nominating petition in support of Chris Christie’s first campaign for governor, according to The Star-Ledger.
The suit was filed on May 15 in State Superior Court in Mercer County. It names Detective Sgt. 1st Class John Pizzuro as the plaintiff. Pizzuro was asked by colleague Detective Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Hampton in 2009 to sign a petition. The two were working in the Official Corruption Unit at the time.
Pizzuro was told by Hampton that he was working for the election campaign and was asked to acquire signatures on a petition to get Christie listed on the ballot. Pizzuro said this conversation occurred while on official state time. The petition was presented to Pizzuro, who said there were names for 10 troopers on it. Pizzuro did not sign the petition and said that the request was against the policies of the State Police.
“Hampton again instructed (Pizzuro) to sign the petition stating that ‘you have to sign it if you want things to get better,’ ” according to the lawsuit.
Pizzuro said he was called a derogatory term when he declined to sign it a second time. Pizzuro claims that Hampton was promoted to lieutenant, becoming his superior and that Pizzuro was denied the same rank even though he was first in line for it.
The lawsuit says that just 22 days after the promotion of Hampton, Pizzuro was informed by Capt. Denise Medea that she was allowed to promote Pizzuro to the head of the Strategic Operations Unit. The authorization was given by Maj. Raymond Guidetti. The position is that of lieutenant. Pizzuro was also told that the promotion was authorized by New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes.
Then, just four days later, Pizzuro was informed by Medea that he would not be promoted and that it was offered to Detective Sgt. 1st Class Cesar Huaman. Pizzuro claims that Huaman declined it originally, but reconsidered when threatened with a demotion by Hampton if he did not accept it.
Pizzuro met with Guidetti on September 9, 2013 and Guidetti reportedly told him “continue doing what you do, and unless a captain dislikes you, you should have no problem” receiving a promotion to lieutenant.
In March 2014, Pizzuro ranked number-one on the promotions list for lieutenant. He claims that Hampton and Guidetti changed the list from numerical to alphabetical, moving him to the ‘P’ category. Then, on March 26, six troopers received promotions to lieutenant instead of Pizzuro. Two of them were not ranked on the list either.
Pizzuro claims in the lawsuit that the actions of Hampton “were in direct retaliation” for not signing the petition back in 2009.