Injunction issued against borough hearing in Leonard Galli case

Last updated: April 17. 2014 11:41PM - 13613 Views
By - rdupuis@civitasmedia.com



Suspended Exeter Borough Police Sgt. Leonard Galli, left, arrives at Penn Place with his attorneys for a hearing Thursday morning.
Suspended Exeter Borough Police Sgt. Leonard Galli, left, arrives at Penn Place with his attorneys for a hearing Thursday morning.
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WILKES-BARRE — Thousands of pornographic photos and videos containing “the most extreme, graphic hardcore imagery” were discovered on an Exeter computer used by now-suspended police Sgt. Leonard Galli, according to civil documents filed Thursday by borough labor lawyers.


An examination of Galli’s computer use also revealed he visited websites in search of sexual encounters with other men, borough documents state. There are no allegations of criminal behavior in the filing, which focuses on his use of departmental equipment.


Those documents were sealed Thursday afternoon under an order issued by Luzerne County Judge William Amesbury, but not before the filing — then fully public — was accessed by reporters while court proceedings were pending.


“This morning, while we were … in the courtroom to resolve the issue, counsel for the borough went to the prothonotary to file several of the very documents that contained the information which was the subject of our petition, to which I object very, very strenuously,” Galli defense attorney Kimberly Borland said.


“Those documents were neither material nor pertinent in any way to our contract complaint,” said Borland.


Philadelphia attorney Joseph C. Rudolf, representing the borough, declined to comment before Amesbury’s gag order.


Galli, hired by Exeter as a full-time police officer in 1993, headed to court Thursday seeking an injunction against a borough “investigative interview,” scheduled for later that morning. At that interview details of the borough’s allegations would have become public — something he argues was not supposed to happen under a deal worked out with borough officials.


Suit against Exeter


According to a lawsuit filed by Galli on Wednesday, the borough illegally backed out of a discipline agreement, under which Galli agreed to a demotion and pay cut and the borough agreed to keep all details of his suspension confidential.


The borough maintains Galli rejected the agreement.


Amesbury approved a preliminary injunction putting the investigative interview on hold, stating “there is strong support that (borough) council voted on the record to authorize their counsel to enter into an agreement.”


Amesbury then sealed records in the case and ordered the attorneys have no communication with media.


“Harm has occurred, but we are going to limit public disclosure until we hold a determination on the merits,” Amesbury added, referring to videos “and other items that are out there that may cause irreparable harm.”


Amesbury scheduled a further meeting on the issue for 11 a.m. Tuesday.


Court battle


Galli sought the injunction preventing the investigative interview and allowing him to return to work, pursuant to the discipline agreement.


According to Galli and Borland, the interview would have seen Galli questioned before a court reporter, and a transcript of that proceeding would then be open to the public and media — intended as an attempt to reveal confidential information and embarrass him, according to Galli’s suit.


A hearing on the injunction was scheduled to be held before Judge Fred A. Pierantoni III at 8:30 a.m. in the County Courthouse on River Street. But Pierantoni, a Pittston-area resident, recused himself due to familiarity with Galli and Exeter Borough Council.


The hearing was rescheduled for 10:30 a.m. before Amesbury at the Penn Place building downtown. Galli, who is in his late 40s, appeared in court with a woman he identified as his wife.


At 9:22 a.m., Rudolf and his associates filed the borough’s response to Galli’s suit. Among its contentions:


• In 2013, Galli was observed watching “graphic pornography” on his work computer during shifts, the filing says.


• Investigation into Galli’s computer use revealed Galli’s work computer contained hundreds of files relating to personal, non-work business matters, and that “the first of these files appear coincidentally with the first productive use of this computer on Jan. 12, 2012.”


• The borough maintains Galli “regularly viewed sexually explicit materials on his work computer and also made frequent visits to the website craigslist.org’s ‘casual encounter’ and ‘Male 4 Male’ sections.”


“There is evidence that pornographic videos were viewed on this machine as early as January 2012, but the actual video files were unrecoverable,” documents state.


• Galli’s non-work Internet use regularly included the sites craigslist.org, redtube.com and AOL.com messaging, documents state. Redtube.com contains pornographic videos.


• Use of such sites was detected for Feb. 3 and 4. Galli was placed on paid administrative leave on Feb. 5.


Suspension, negotiations


During Galli’s leave, the parties engaged in settlement negotiations, the borough’s filing states.


A draft agreement would see Galli suspended without pay for two weeks, then demoted to patrolman for a year, during which time he would not be able to participate in any supervisory capacity.


He would have seen his base pay reduced by $1,000, to $55,475. Galli also would be required to take a psychological exam assessing his fitness for duty.


Any improper use of workplace computers, or other violation of the agreement would be grounds for termination, it states.


But the borough says Galli rejected the draft agreement “based, in part, on the inclusion of specific reference to his conduct, and requested material revisions.”


In turn, the borough declined to make the revisions and decided to proceed with the investigation, its filing states.


The borough and the union “jointly agreed” that Galli would participate in an employee interview on Thursday, but “in an effort to avoid participation in the employee interview, (Galli) initiated (the lawsuit) where he inexplicably attempts to resurrect the draft agreement as a binding agreement between the parties,” the borough’s filing states.


Borland took aim at the borough’s response.


“This matter was brought by Mr. Galli to enforce an agreement that was reached between Exeter Borough and himself on Feb. 25,” he told reporters. “The purpose of the motion and petition was to maintain the status quo and confidentiality of the issues which had been the basis of the earlier agreement.”


“We gave notice to counsel for the borough, of both our complaint to enforce the agreement and our intent to seek an order to maintain confidentiality as to the issues, yesterday,” Borland said Thursday.


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