Prosecutors investigating ‘Big Blue’ sex toy lawsuit claims again, borough says
MOUNTAINSIDE — Allegations of corruption, racism and sexual harassment involving a sex toy named "Big Blue" were publicly revealed this month in a lawsuit against the police department. But borough officials were aware of at least some of these allegations almost a year and a half earlier.
The lawsuit filed by six members of the department led to the suspensions this month of Chief Allan Attanasio, Lt. Thomas Murphy, and Sgt. Andrew Huber.
Last week, video was made public showing the suspended officers using a sex toy to harass a man at headquarters.
This weekend, Mayor Paul Mirabelli and the Borough Council said the Union County Prosecutor's Office was investigating new allegations against the department.
The statement said the "recent reports of misconduct do not reflect the values of this community," and that "we are carefully evaluating all the issues that have come to light and will take all appropriate action that the facts dictate."
After learning about some allegations a year and a half ago, the matter was referred to the Union County Prosecutor's Office, according to the statement. After the investigation was concluded, the Prosecutor's Office made "certain recommendations, which were implemented in all respects by the borough." The statement did not detail what those recommendations were.
A spokesperson for the prosecutor's office said they could not comment on whether an investigation had been or was still active.
In addition to the initial allegations, the borough's statement said there have since been new allegations made, which have also been forwarded to the Prosecutor's Office. The statement says the borough takes the allegations in the lawsuit "very seriously."
"All employees of the Borough deserve to work in a positive and productive environment," the statement said. "Behavior that falls outside of our code of conduct will not be tolerated."
With Attanasio and two officers placed on leave, Mirabelli said Lt. Joseph Giannuzzi is now the commanding officer for the department. The statement said the governing body has "every confidence that he will be able to continue the important work of the department without distraction while continuing to serve and protect the residents of the Borough of Mountainside."
In addition to the prosecutor's investigation, there is also an internal investigation underway, and the statement asked for "patience" as the respective investigations continue.