Attorney: Trial of four BPD officers to start Monday slated to get under way next week

BLOOMFIELD, NJ — According to an attorney representing four Bloomfield Police Department officers, a long-delayed jury trial is scheduled to begin in Newark Superior Court this coming Monday.

“The trial is definitely on for Feb. 4,” attorney Catherine Elston informed The Independent Press in a Jan. 22 email.
The trial involves four active or retired Bloomfield Police Department officers who are suing the township for alleged discriminatory treatment because they were military reservists. The alleged discrimination occurred during a period that began eight years ago.

Michael McCracken, Hector Cartagena, Anthony Argento and Michael Frazzano, who are being represented by Elston, have brought suit against Bloomfield and a number of former township employees, including police department personnel.
In court papers, the four officers allege systematic abuse.

“It is no coincidence that from January 2011 to December 2013, three police officers who were veterans and/or former or active members of the Armed Services, were terminated from employment,” the court document said.

The upcoming trial stems from BPD allegations against McCracken and Cartagena in late 2013. Both officers were suspended after an Internal Affairs investigation.

In a December 2013 news conference covered by ABC-TV and attended by NJ Sen. Ron Rice, D-Essex, Elston said the military time-off periods investigated by Internal Affairs were when McCracken and Cartagena were in transit to or from a military base. During one disputed period, she said Cartagena was receiving medical attention in a military hospital.

In her email, Elston said jury selection would be Feb. 4 and opening statements most likely the following day. Judge Keith E. Lynott will preside.