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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

An Offer He Couldn’t Refuse

NEWTON, N.J. (CN) - A former councilman sued Vernon Township, its Police Department and town's Republican Committee, claiming an armed policeman forced him to sign a resignation letter after he had been "subjected ... to a coordinated campaign of threats, extortion, coercion, harassment and intimidation." Former Councilman Richard Carson is a Republican himself.

Carson says the mayor and the Vernon Police Department conspired with the other defendants to force him to resign so he could be replaced by "someone who was more willing to carry out" their directives.

Carson claims this behavior, which occurred during his 4-year term, included police officers and politicians telling him people were "out to get him," that he should "watch his back," and that they would "find him and create problems for him."

He claims the intimidation ranged from being warned not to attend fund raisers to being told "he would soon become the subject of a recall election and be removed from office."

Carson says it all culminated in an A&P parking lot, when Patrolman David Hering approached him "displaying his [police] shield and carrying his police-issued handgun" and demanded that he sign letters of resignation.

Fearful for his safety, Carson says he signed the letters under duress and gave up his post.

He seeks damages for 56 counts, including conspiracy, assault, abuse of process, fraud, wire fraud, extortion and civil rights violations.

He is represented by Kevin Kelly of Kelly & Ward in Newton, N.J.

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