SCRANTON — Former Laflin police chief Michael Flanagan claims Borough Council has retaliated and defamed him in response to him filing a federal lawsuit over his demotion.
Flanagan filed the suit in November alleging he was “wrongfully demoted” back to being a police officer without cause in violation of the police department’s collective bargaining agreement. He has since filed an amended suit claiming council has retaliated and defamed him in public.
Named in the lawsuit are council President Paul Benderavich and council members Carl Yastremski, Patrick Gilhooley, Anthony D’Eliseo and Thomas Parry.
Flanagan contends he had engaged in no wrongdoing that would have caused him to be demoted. The suit alleges Flanagan asked Benderavich in March 2013 if it was true that council was disbanding the police force. Benderavich allegedly replied “yes” and began pressuring Flanagan to have officers “write more tickets” and change schedules for officers.
In the amended complaint, Flanagan claims council defamed him in a letter dated Jan. 6 and signed by Benderavich that was sent to the state police, state Office of Attorney General and the FBI. The letter was obtained by the media on Jan. 8.
Benderavich says he wrote the letter on behalf of council requesting an investigation of an issue that was uncovered by police Chief Daniel Mimnaugh, who was appointed in October when Flanagan was demoted.
According to the letter, a woman reported to borough police on April 20 that a man impersonating a police officer stopped her car and demanded to see her license. The letter claims the investigation was “taken over” by Flanagan, and the woman identified Michael P. Yazurlo, son of Mayor Dorothy Yazurlo, as the man who stopped her.
No charges have been filed.
Flanagan says the Jan. 6 letter “defames him by accusing him of wrongdoing of engaging in an illegal cover-up and intentionally failing to investigate and arrest criminals.”
Council has asked a federal judge to dismiss Flanagan’s lawsuit, contending the former chief has failed to establish any claims that led to his demotion.