Attorney Alleges Misconduct, Criminal Acts by Councilman; Plans to Sue

A lawyer representing a Borough of Bellmawr employee has put the Borough on notice that she intends to institute a lawsuit against the Borough and Councilman Paul Sandrock for alleged criminal acts and official misconduct.

The attorney, Cheryl Cooper, also urged the Borough to conduct its own investigation into
Sandrock’s alleged activities.

Via letter dated August 20, 2015, Cooper advised the Borough’s attorney, Robert Messick, of her representation of the Borough employee.

The Gloucester City News is in possession of the letter.

In the letter, Cooper wrote about “several incidents by Mr. Sandrock that constitute harassment and interference with [the Borough worker’s] employment.”

Additionally, the letter alleges that “Mr. Sandrock physically assaulted [the Borough worker] at a political event when he grabbed his face, and told him to look at him when he was talking to him.”

Cooper’s letter served as notice “that Mr. Sandrock, in his official capacity, has committed violations of New Jersey law.”

She indicated her intent to file a lawsuit against both the Borough and Sandrock, individually, for damages he has caused the Borough worker and for breaching New Jersey law.

“I am looking into the appropriate state authorities to report Mr. Sandrock’s breach of authority, constituting ‘official misconduct’,” Cooper wrote. She stated in her letter that when a public official exerts improper influence in his official capacity, it is official misconduct and crime. Misconduct can be taken ambiguously as some employees might have different opinions on what constitutes ‘misconduct’, and more can be read about it here. In this case, Cooper firmly believes that the actions that took place should certainly be considered misconduct. Cooper also pointed out that a public official may be criminally liable for purporting to act in an official capacity to deprive another individual of his civil rights.

Additionally, she wrote, “It is a crime of pattern of official misconduct if a public official commits two or more of the acts that violate the provisions” of New Jersey statutes.

“Mr. Sandrock has also threatened (another Borough worker’s job who has since returned to Teaneck),” Cooper wrote in her letter. She is currently in contact with the other worker and has advised her to consult with Teaneck personal injury attorneys about the incident.

Cooper continued: “It is clear that Mr. Sandrock is using his political office to exert pressure on others, to threaten the employment of an upstanding Borough employee, all for no apparent reason.”

Cooper wrote that the Borough employee has a valid claim against the Borough and also that Mr. Sandrock’s behavior as a public official in Bellmawr is a violation of criminal code in the State of New Jersey.

A call was made to the Borough of Bellmawr in an attempt to reach Sandrock concerning the allegations against him and a message was left.

As of press time, Sandrock did not respond.

An email was also sent to Borough Clerk, Chuck Sauter, asking for additional information.

Sauter was asked in the email if Robert Messick is representing both the Borough and Sandrock, or if special council had been appointed.

The email sought to confirm whether or not the Borough had begun an investigation.

Because of the legal nature of the question contained in the email, Sauter referred the matter to the Borough’s lawyer, Robert Messick. A call placed to Messick was not returned. Cooper responded “no comment” when she was asked for further details on the matter.

*Article originally appeared in the November 5, 2015 edition of the Gloucester City News.