IPD captain’s attorney says she’s cleared to return to work

IRVINGTON, NJ — According to her attorney, now that Superior Court Judge Michael Revan has cleared Irvington Police Department Capt. Monique Smith of all the criminal charges she faced in connection with the alleged 2014 assault on her one-time paramour, John “Sharpe” James, she is free to return to her job.

“She was found not guilty two weeks ago on all of the charges which were being tried,” Steven Altman, of the Benedict & Altman law firm, said Tuesday, May 9. “She was found not guilty of unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose, the weapon being her car.

“There are minor charges she’s still facing, including petty disorderly persons for harassment disorderly persons offense of criminal mischief, reckless driving a motor vehicle offense and leaving the scene of an accident a motor vehicle offense, which is to be decided by Judge Revan. He is scheduled to make his decision on those charge on May 26.”

But Altman said the worst part of Smith’s legal ordeal is over.

“Monique was innocent from the start. This is one time the system worked,” said Altman. “It’s my opinion that, based upon the fact that she was found not guilty on all the criminal charges, she would be entitled to get her job back. We are awaiting a response from the administration in Irvington regarding that question — When she can resume her position as a captain in the police department?”

Altman said Mayor Tony Vauss “should certainly have” his letter regarding Smith’s job status by now. But as of Tuesday, May 2, Vauss said he had not received any inquiries about Smith’s job status, though he was aware she had beaten the criminal charges she was facing.

Smith was promoted to the rank of captain in the Irvington Police Department at a ceremony Jan. 15, 2015, the same date she was accused of assaulting James, the son of former Newark Mayor Sharpe James.

“I haven’t received any formal request about Capt. Monique Smith case as of yet,” said Vauss on Tuesday, May 2.

Irvington Police Department PBA Local 29 President Maurice Gattison was also circumspect about Smith’s return to the department. Although she is a member of his union, which represents rank-and-file officers, Smith is also a part of the Superior Officers Association that represents ranking officers.

“Smith is an SOA member,” said Gattison on Tuesday, May 2. “All supervisors are fraternal members of the PBA.”

Attempts to contact Irvington Public Safety Director Tracy Bowers for a comment about Smith returning to the job were unsuccessful by press time this week. Her old IPD boss, mentor and friend, former police Chief Michael Chase, said he is pleased Smith was cleared of all the criminal charges.

“I’m very happy to hear that Capt. Smith was found not guilty,” said Chase on Monday, May 1. “She has always been an exemplary police officer and woman. Now she will get her job back and I think that is a plus for the township. She did a lot of work for the township and the community over the years.”

According to Chase, Smith surrendered herself to the Newark Police Department on Monday, Jan. 15, 2015, in response to an allegation of assault allegedly related to a domestic violence incident involving James, a Newark councilman, that occurred in Newark the same day she had been promoted to captain. He said that, as of Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, she was accused of a variety of charges including aggravated assault with a weapon, illegal possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. And as a result, she was suspended from the IPD pending the outcome of her case.

At the time Smith was charged, Vauss described her as “a fine officer working for the Irvington Police Department for many years.”