Hoboken attorney recommends firing SWAT scandal ringleader over Tampa airport incident


(NJ.COM)   Hoboken’s legal counsel has recommended that Lt. Angelo Andriani, theex-SWAT team commander infamous for his role in the 2007 scandal in the Hoboken Police Department, be fired on the basis on the Tampa airport incident in January. The decision now seeks approval from Police Chief Anthony Falco, Public Safety Director Angel Alicea and Mayor Dawn Zimmer.

Former Hoboken SWAT team commander Lt. Angelo Andriani was in hot water over photos showing, among other things, him and Hooters girls posing with Hoboken weapons during a supposed mission of mercy to help survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Earlier this month, Andriani was accused of causing a disturbance at a Tampa airport. On the basis of the Tampa incident, Hoboken's legal counsel recommends he be terminated from the department.

Andriani’s lawyer Charles Sciarra called the decision “kind of a joke,” and said he plans to appeal to the Civil Service Commission, an independent agency. He said he solely engaged in the administrative hearing to get discovery, a pre-trial request of evidence.

“Somebody I never heard of comes in and fires my guy,” said Sciarra, adding that no Tampa witnesses were presented.

Hoboken special legal counsel Thomas Portelli was hired in February for the express purpose of examining the Adriani case regarding a Jan. 18 incident at the Tampa International Airport in which Andriani allegedly caused a disturbance with Transportation Security Administration officers. Portelli estimates he will be paid approximately $7,500 for the hearings thus far, with a salary cap of $29,000, as indicated in the City Council resolution.

Andriani grew irate after the flight crew was allowed to board a New Jersey-bound plane before him. According to TSA, He displayed a badge and said he was a police officer. As a suspended officer, Andriani wasn’t even supposed to have a badge, officials said. No charges, however, were filed.

Corporation Counsel Michael Kates said, if Andriani files an appeal, the case goes to the Office of Administrative Law, which could take some time.

“There’s still a question of whether Andriani will ultimately prevail,” Kates said.

Kates said the city is looking into recovering all of Andriani’s suspension pay.

Andriani was on paid suspension at $11,000 a month since his role in the 2007 SWAT team scandal until he was removed from the city payroll on Feb. 4.

According to Kates, the issue regarding the Andriani’s role in the SWAT team scandal is awaiting a non-judicial determination by retired Superior Court Judge Arthur D’Italia, who is a city-appointed presiding officer in charge of an administrative review. D’Italia will be setting a decision date soon and determining, like Portelli, whether the ex-commander should be fired, Kates said.

Falco, Zimmer and Andriani could not be immediately reached for comment. Alicea said that a collective decision will be made once Falco, Zimmer and himself have thorough reviewed the documents.

“If the basis is justified, we will take the appropriation action,” said Alicea, adding that he is still digesting the legal counsel’s report.

The SWAT team scandal resulted in former Chief of Police Carmen LaBruno’s resignation and a lawsuit against Andriani by five Hispanic Hoboken police officers who called him an “unabashed white supremacist.”

Photos and videos from two trips to Louisiana show members of the city’s SWAT team posing with bare-breasted women at Mardi Gras in New Orleans, letting Hooters girls hold their weapons in Alabama, and downing Jell-O shots in a Louisiana bar. They also show Andriani posing in a Confederate cap, pretending to be a Ku Klux Klan member at a restaurant, and passing a handgun and bullets around at a party.

http://www.nj.com/hobokennow/index.ssf/2010/05/hoboken_legal_counsel_recommen.html

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