Judge dismisses newspaperman’s official misconduct charges against Paterson council members | Paterson Times

Judge dismisses newspaperman’s official misconduct charges against Paterson council members


Passaic County Superior Court assignment judge Ernest Caposela on Wednesday morning dismissed official misconduct charges brought against council members by the publisher of the New Jersey Pulse newspaper.

Caposela dismissed charges Sirrano Keith Baldeo brought against seven council members – William McKoy, Ruby Cotton, Michael Jackson, Kenneth Morris, Maritza Davila, Andre Sayegh, and Alex Mendez — that stemmed from an April 5th, 2016 council meeting where the publisher was not allowed to speak.

“As a matter of law, this statute just doesn’t apply in this scenario,” said Caposela speaking of the official misconduct charge. He said the charge is a second-degree offense that can lead to 10 or more years in prison and is often used to punish government officials for securing wrongful benefits. “Voting in a city council meeting, whether you like it or not, doesn’t constitute official misconduct.”

In that meeting, no one signed up to speak during public portion; however, the council president, McKoy at the time, allowed activist Ernest Rucker and resident Donald Lynch to speak. Both took aim at the publisher.

When Baldeo requested to speak council members appeared to ignore him and voted to close the public portion, according to records of the meeting.

Baldeo also brought disorderly conduct and harassment charges against the same council members. The judge also dismissed those charges.

“The grievance there is they spoke ill of him,” said Joe Del Russo, attorney for Sayegh, referring to Lynch and Rucker. “There is not a scintilla of evidence he [Sayegh] was involved in that communication.”

If every time a government official has to worry about being taken up on harassment and disorderly conduct charges for his actions and speech during a public meeting there will be a “chilling effect [that] would be overwhelming,” said the judge.

The judge said the criminal statutes were not designed to “control” the behavior of elected officials at public meetings. The judge’s dismissal of the charges brought visible relief to the council members. All seven accused council members were in the courtroom.

Baldeo left the courtroom after the judge dismissed the misconduct charges. Outside the courtroom, he said, “I predicted this was going to happen today. What he did today was politics over law.” He alleged both the judge and the county prosecutor had conflict and should have recused themselves.

“Two attorneys slammed me and the prosecutor just sat there and did nothing,” said Baldeo speaking of chief assistant prosecutor Mary Ryan. Del Russo argued for Sayegh while Richard Mazawey represented McKoy. He later made the same complaint to Ryan as she exited the courtroom.

Baldeo hinted at the possibility of taking civil action against the council members. Caposela mentioned civil remedies. “Are there civil remedies? There might be. I express no opinion on it,” said the judge.

Baldeo has filed more than 200 criminal complaints against city officials and others. This has led Sayegh to describe the newspaper president as a “serial litigant.”

“I’m not letting this go,” said Baldeo. “I still believe the criminal elements of this case still stands.”

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  • Paterson Pulse Paterson Pulse


    Here's my OP/ED;
    I"m adding my response to the Herald News here: IT'S CORRUPTION AT THE HIGHES LEVEL:
    The case was no just what happened that they, the corrupted council launched a campaign of assault on my newspaper and me, all that was kept from the argument by the prosecutor; So, my humble response to the public agains the corrupted;
    God no longer allow us to fight corruption with a sword, we speak against it and are sacrificed to expose it in high places, I count it Joy to have exposed it today. As a Christian, I learn from Jesus even when it seems you lose you actually won becasue you get to expose authority. He too could have stayed out of that city (Jerusalem) but he continued to speak up against the corrupted and they conspired to shut him up. so If his defeat is victory, then I won today. He showed us we win by losing, a good day's work as a Christian. I hope the people of Paterson now see the corruption they vote for. I had asked for this case to be moved from Paterson because of the close relationship with the Prosecutor and the Paterson officials and they refused. This ruling is an indictment on the free press and sends a horrible message that we are no longer allowed to tell the public the truth because they will use their power to violate us and when we complain we are targeted by judges in their political party, sounds familiar almost Biblical.

    We knew this Prosecutor and judge Ernest Caposela was corrupted, I just got a chance to show it, I'm good with that too. I'm not giving up, I will continue to fight corruption and not disappoint the good people of Paterson (or anywhere,) who are victims of a corrupt and incompetent government. I love the People of Paterson that's why I do what I do and I'm honored when they shout at me on the streets for being there for them. I'm asking for all the ruling to be reviewed by the AG and the FEDs, or higher courts. I'm looking into civil action on the officials and I'm doing a residence in Texas to get to the right people so that I will come back here for the judges and prosecutor for their part, which is a seven-year statute of limitations. With two ACJC complaints and he still kept the cases, he knew what his intent was the day Judge Judith Accardi charged these corrupted officials, to stop me at all cost and get rid of the cases. I felt alone in that courtroom today, with a prosecutor appointed to protect my rights, she just sat there like a porcelain doll, and said nothing! against three attorneys on the other side, a setup? perhaps.

    They called me a "serial litigator" translation; the number of time they violated my rights and I complained about it. This time I had enough so I went criminal, after reviewing the Official Misconduct law.

    They left the court laughing, mocking and showing me the finger today. The last time they assaulted me, but I too left pleased. You may say "but Sirrano, you lost?" not quite so; Quiet as it's kept I won today, not them. They just did not get indicted for now because of their political connections. I wanted to prove there was corruption and I did, I also netted four judges, included a top Judge and two prosecutors including Valdes. That may not have any significance to you right now, but it's only a matter of time before it all comes crashing down when I reach the right people. They fail to realize the buck does not stop in Passaic County. So if they are going to use my cases to fine me and punish me, go ahead, that too will come back on them. My job was to

  • Ryan Kevin Lawrence

    They stripped this man's rights away from him, all he ever did was cared about Paterson and a judge said that was okay, okay to do this to him. I hope he sues them. And I hope they learnt that they cannot abuse their powers to take away people constitutional rights.

    • Billy the Kid

      You never red his so called newspaper…