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Ex-officer sues FOP

Published April 08. 2010 05:00PM

A former Jim Thorpe police officer has filed civil suit against the Carbon-Schuylkill Fraternal Order of Police lodge, over the lack of legal representation the organization provided to him in a case involving his employment with the borough.

Todd Leslie, of 242 W. Columbus Ave., Nesquehoning, is seeking all monies he paid to a private counsel to represent him in the matter, along with lost wages and court costs expended to date, together with interest and legal fees incurred in the instant matter. Also sought is punitive damages in excess of $25,000.

Leslie was a full-time police officer in Jim Thorpe until April 14, 2008, when he was terminated from the position by borough council. He filed appeals to the suspension and eventual termination.

The suit states that Leslie had to attend several meetings without counsel concerning allegations against him, that he filed incorrect or false time sheets, and that he was forced to hire private counsel despite the fact he was a longtime member of the police lodge and regularly paid dues.

The suit states that Leslie's union representative, Joseph Lawrence, attended two meetings and attorney Richardson Todd Eagen, the lodge legal counsel, represented Leslie at two meetings concerning the allegations.

However, the suit states that Leslie had to file appeals "pro se" because he was not advised by Eagen nor his union representative as to what he should do with regard to the appeals.

The suit states that on Aug. 8, 2008, Eagen sent a letter to Leslie advising him that he would no longer represent him in the pending legal matters concerning his employment with the borough. The suit quotes from the letter from Eagen a section that states, "After a review of the facts ... any further legal action on your behalf would be without merit." The letter also states, "Lodge has decided not to provide any further legal aid."

It also states that Leslie requested Eagen represent him in his application for unemployment benefits but was refused. The suit claims Leslie was told by Eagen that the lodge does not represent members in unemployment benefit hearings.

The suit states, "As a direct result of the actions of defendant by and through their agents, representatives or employees, plaintiff was compelled to hire private counsel to represent him throughout the Civil Service proceedings and thereafter."

The suit states that Leslie paid $325 a year in dues and his legal expenses to date exceed $10,000.

Leslie alleges breach of contract, failure to represent and seeks declaratory judgment against the lodge.

Attorney Robert T. Yurchak represents Leslie in the matter.

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