BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Councilman at large Joseph Lopez informed the council Monday night that if he needed an attorney to defend himself against any charges brought against him by Daniel Chalet, he expected the township to provide him with one.
Lopez said he was taking this position because of an alleged altercation between himself and Chalet following the Jan. 4 council meeting. Lopez said the alleged altercation was an act of retaliation against him as a councilman.
At the Jan. 4 meeting, Lopez made a motion for a resolution asking for the resignation of Councilman Elias Chalet, who has been charged by the Office of the Attorney General with bribery in an official and political act. The councilman is an uncle of Daniel Chalet.
Lopez’s motion did not received any support. But following the meeting, he had an alleged altercation with Daniel Chalet in the Town Hall parking lot.
The incident was partially recorded on a camera Daniel Chalet was holding. Lopez filed charges of retaliation for past political action, stalking, filing a false police report and harassment. Interviewed last week, Daniel Chalet said he filed charges of aggravated assault, simple assault and damage to his camera, and was going to file charges of filing a false police report.
“Because I took that stand,” Lopez told the council this past Monday, “I don’t think I should be threatened. My kids used to play outside. Now I need the police to come around my house. I request legal representation. Forget our differences when one of us is being threatened.”
Township Attorney Brian Aloia told Lopez that if he wanted representation before any disposition of the case, he would need a resolution. But if he lost the case, he would have to repay the township. Aloia also told him that he could wait until any disposition, and if he won, submit his legal bills at that time. Aloia told him to provide Township Administrator Matthew Watkins with copies of any charges he might receive.
Lopez decided to put into motion the resolution which would have requested representation before any settlement of the charges but he received no support. He said he expected as much from the council.
“Birds of a feather flock together,” he said.
“It’s a private matter,” Mayor Venezia told him.
In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Lopez said he has not been served any charges filed by Daniel Chalet.
“From what I understand,” he said, “once I get the charges, I have 10 days to give them to the township administrator.”