BLOOMFIELD, NJ — An alleged altercation between Councilman Joseph Lopez and Daniel Chalet, a nephew of Councilman Elias Chalet, occurred in the Municipal Building parking lot Monday night, Jan. 4, according to a Bloomfield Police Department report. It followed the Bloomfield Council Reorganizational meeting during which Lopez asked for Chalet’s resignation from the council. Lopez had requested a resolution but he found no support. Chalet has been charged by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office with bribery in official and political duties.
According to the police report, a charge of simple assault and retaliation has been filed against Daniel Chalet.
In the report, Officer Matthew Rubbinaccio said he responded to a radio call of an assault in the Municipal Building parking lot. He had been on duty at the council meeting.
Rubbinaccio said at the scene he spoke with Ms. Lopez, the councilman’s wife, who said a group of individuals had surrounded her car and was recording them on cell phones.
Councilman Lopez, in an interview with The Independent Press, said he was in
the car with his wife and father, and he was in the driver’s seat.
According to the report, Ms. Lopez said someone tried to open the driver-side door when her husband kicked it open and a verbal argument ensued.
“Mr. Lopez believes this was retaliation by the Chalet family for bringing up the motion to have Eli Chalet resign,” the report stated.
The report stated the BPD was dispatched to Mountainside Hospital about three hours after the parking-lot incident.
At the hospital, Chalet reported to police that Lopez had twice stuck him in the face, with a closed fist, which also broke his cell phone.
The report concluded that all parties were referred to the court.
In a telephone interview, Lopez said Chalet had his cell camera at the driver’s door.
“Someone was trying to open the door,” Lopez said. “I estimate there were six to eight people around the car. I kicked the door open and I asked, ‘What’s going on?’ Daniel Chalet shined the light in my eyes. I didn’t know if these guys were going to jump me and I knocked the phone from his hand. Now he’s saying I punched him twice in the face. He gave his police report at the hospital. Why didn’t he give it in the parking lot?”
In a telephone interview, Chalet said his statement was never taken at the scene because Lt. Anthony Argento did not want it on the report. Argento is noted on the report as having reviewed it.
“Anthony Argento is friends with Joe Lopez,” Chalet said. “Lopez assaulted me and punched me in the face twice. That’s why I made the report in the hospital.
“The police are suppose to take statements from both parties,” Chalet continued. “That’s how corrupt Bloomfield is. Why wasn’t the report taken at the scene?”
Chalet provided The Independent Press with his recording of the parking lot incident. In it, Lopez is seen, in the driver’s seat, covering his face with a piece of paper.
“Have a good day Mr. Lopez,” a voice is heard to say.
The car door is then forcefully opened and Lopez gets out. A woman’s voice is heard screaming.
“What are you doing?” Lopez asks, and suddenly the camera appears to be knocked away.
The screen goes black but Lopez can be heard yelling for the police.
Bloomfield Police Director Sam DeMaio said the department received Chalet’s allegation that his statement was not taken at the scene. DeMaio said the police did not have any indication that it was.
“We’re going to review all dash-board cameras,” DeMaio said. “It’s gone to Internal Affairs if the allegation is accurate.”