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Town settlement with Princeton police officers totals almost $4 million (updated)

The Princeton Council on Monday night voted unanimously to approve legal settlements with several police officers who accused a former chief of harassment, discrimination, and creating a hostile work environment.

Officials did not disclose the total amounts of the settlements at the council meeting and did not disclose the top four settlement amounts, claiming the insurance companies still had to approve the settlements.

But the lawyer for the seven officers who were plaintiffs in the case has provided Planet Princeton with the settlement figures. The settlement is not confidential, and was placed on the record in court on Feb. 4. The parties agreed that the settlements are not confidential, lawyer Matthew Peluso confirmed.

The municipality of Princeton has agreed to pay a total of $3.925 million to the officers instead of having the case go to trial. The settlements with the officers are as follows:

Sharon Papp – $1.3 million
Dan Chitren – $1.15 million
Carol Raymond  – $600,000
Chris Donnelly – $500,000 
Chris Quaste – $150,000
Mike Bender – $125,000 
Steve Riccitello – $100,000 

Princeton taxpayers are on the hook for insurance deductibles, co-insurance payments, and all the legal fees the municipality has paid its lawyers in the case since 2013.

As part of the settlement, the municipality did not admit any guilt or liability.

The officers alleged that David Dudeck, the former chief of Princeton Borough and the first chief of the consolidated Princeton, engaged in a continuing pattern of gender discrimination, sexual orientation discrimination, disability discrimination and harassment that was abusive and created a hostile work environment.

The lawsuit against the town and Dudeck was filed four months after the Princeton Council and Dudeck entered into a separation agreement that allowed him to retire. As part of the agreement, the police union withdrew allegations its members made against Dudeck, and the Mercer County Prosecutor agreed not to investigate charges previously made by the union. Under the agreement, both Dudeck and the town were barred from any future litigation regarding his employment, and Dudeck was forbidden from discussing the agreement.

At the time the settlement was made, the mayor and some council members praised the agreement, saying it would protect everyone from future legal liability and that the police department could “begin a new chapter.” But town officials never obtained individual agreements from the officers involved.


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15 comments
  • I accessed the complaints and motions filed on NJ Courts website. Everything is accessible there. I am ashamed as a member of a progressive society that stands up for those without a voice. I am ashamed that there was knowledge by our police leaders and town administrators which are still employed of what was being done and yet no one came forward to stop it. I am calling for a complete political overhaul. It is time for a fresh start with the police and mayor and council. I am not happy as a tax payer but I understand that the victims had to come forward to report this and I encourage them to tell their story. Thank you Square but those depositions had more information than what I wanted to know.

  • Square- the complaint itself was only listed on USAToday, not the depositions. Typically the complaint is only the tip of the iceberg. The depositions are where more substance is revealed. I remember that the Princeton officials were deposed and I would love to see what they provided to the court on their knowledge of these events. The truth lies there and will be out soon if not by this outlet then by another.

  • Just add this to the growing list of poor decisions by the mayor and council. Again, no transparency and no communication. And what about the parking meters ? I went to put money in the meter yesterday and couldn’t because the meter was full and couldn’t take coins. Can Liz and company fix one thing?? Please !

  • Unless you were “in the room,” it is impossible to know what occurred during settlement negotiations or whether there was attorney or Council error or neglect. To the extent permitted by law, Council should provide this explanation to the taxpayers of Princeton. Taxpayers are also entitled to know: (1) the amount Princeton is required to pay out of taxpayer funds; (2) whether there was attorney error and to what extent, if at all, a professional liability claim has been made to recoup some or all of this significant settlement figure; and (3) to what extent, if at all, this case has impacted Princeton’s insurance premiums going forward.

  • So this is national news now and yet the taxpayers do not even know the whole story. There needs to be more about this discussed openly.

  • Isn’t this a situation where the Council paid off an alleged abuser with taxpayer funds and shielded him from legal liability? Shouldn’t all the council members involved with that decision, and the mayor, resign as they sought to shield an alleged abuser from being prosecuted. Instead they paid him off. This is so wrong.

  • Absolutely pathetic. Nice job by the mayor and council to minimize this exposure. Of course, the taxpayers will absorb the bill and just be grateful that we are granted the privilege of living in Princeton.

  • Rethinking my consolidation vote now It Council is happy with the outcome (it’s only 4 million).

  • Accountability? Those still serving on council that were involved need to resign.
    And where was the municipal attorney? How do you not get those agreements? And is that lawyer the same we are now paying for settling?

    “At the time the settlement was made, the mayor and some council members praised the agreement, saying it would protect everyone from future legal liability and that the police department could “begin a new chapter.” But town officials never obtained individual agreements from the officers involved.”

  • Accountability???? Those that remain on council today that were involved need to step down!

    “At the time the settlement was made, the mayor and some council members praised the agreement, saying it would protect everyone from future legal liability and that the police department could “begin a new chapter.” But town officials never obtained individual agreements from the officers involved.”

  • I agree with the other comment by Roger. Why do we keep electing these politicians? I guess most of our residents are blind to things.

  • Another stellar achievement of Princeton officials!
    Thank you all for letting us paying for your mistakes!

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