An appellate decision, which you can view HERE, filed on Thursday overturned a prior decision to deny Virginia Fanelli's attorney legal fees, as reported in the Ledger. Initially, Fanelli's attorneys had asked Judge LeBlon to order the county to pay $1.1 million for legal fees. The judge reduced that amount and denied a request to pay about $20,000 in supplemental legal fees.
Here's what we've been able to add up to date for this Sheriff's office petty case of employee harassment against one of their own, a decorated Sheriff's officer:
Fanelli settlement: $990,000
Fanelli legal bills: $816,000
County legal bills: $420,668
County had to sue their insurance company because they didn’t report the incident properly. Cost:
County vs Coregis Insurance legal fees: $25,917
Insurance covered only $510,000 of the above
Total CASH cost to taxpayers: $1,742,585
MacDonald settlement: $128,000
County Legal fees $70,000
Additional Fanelli bills found in the check registry after case was settled paid to Lacorte, Bundy, most likely for this appeal, $5,818.
County foots bill for lawsuit against sheriff
$800K in legal fees are added to $1.4M for defense and settlement
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
BY JOE RYAN
After spending $1.4 million to defend and settle a lawsuit filed by a former sheriff's officer, Union County must pay an additional $800,000 to cover her legal fees, according to documents released yesterday.
The officer, Virginia Fanelli, sued Sheriff Ralph Froehlich and four other officials in 2001, claiming they wrongly punished her for defending a co-worker accused, and later cleared, of forging overtime reports.
After spending $400,000 over five years of litigation, the county agreed in February to pay Fanelli $990,000 to drop her complaint. In June, Superior Court Judge Vin cent LeBlon ordered officials to pay $816,000 to cover her legal fees, according to the court order ob tained through the state's Open Public Records Act.
Attempts to contact Fanelli yesterday were unsuccessful. Her at torney, Bruce P. McMoran, failed to return a call seeking comment.
County officials, including Froehlich and County Manager George Devanney, declined to comment, citing a confidentially agreement with Fanelli.
Before she filed her suit, Fanelli was a 14-year sheriff's department veteran who had worked as an undercover narcotics agent in Thailand and was touted among the department's rising stars.
The events leading to her lawsuit began in 1998, when sheriff's officer James MacDonald was accused of forging an overtime report. Officials charged that he was at Fanelli's house in Roselle Park while he claimed to be working.
Fanelli defended MacDonald, insisting he arrived only after his shift. He was later cleared.
Afterward, Fanelli claimed officials barred her from administrative offices, demoted her from undercover work and assigned her to a security post at the Union County Courthouse doors, according to court papers. Officials also confiscated her service weapon and ordered Fanelli to undergo psychological counseling, the court papers said.
She took a leave of absence shortly before filing the suit and is no longer employed by the county.
Initially, Fanelli's attorneys had asked Judge LeBlon to order the county to pay $1.1 million for legal fees. The judge reduced that amount and denied a request to pay about $20,000 in supplemental legal fees.