A former New Jersey school superintendent who pleaded guilty to defecating on another high school’s track has sued the local police department for releasing his mug shot to news outlets.
Thomas Tramaglini said in a federal lawsuit filed late Tuesday that Holmdel police violated his constitutional rights by taking the picture and then releasing it after he was issued summonses last year.
The suit said Tramaglini’s due process rights were violated and alleged New Jersey law prohibits the taking of mug shots for low-level offences. The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages.
Tramaglini resigned as superintendent of the Kenilworth schools, and his attorney said he is now working outside the education field.
“Nearly a year after his ordeal began, today Dr. Tramaglini fights back against the police misconduct that has altered his life forever,” attorney Matthew Adams said Wednesday. “He is severely underemployed and is fighting for any semblance of normalcy he can create for himself and his family.”
An attorney representing the township, its police chief and one other officer named in the suit said in an email that he wouldn’t comment on the pending litigation.
The Tramaglini case received national exposure after details came to light. The suit alleged the negative publicity damaged his reputation and was the result of the police department’s “unauthorized, intentional, reckless, malicious, and unlawful conduct.”
Tramaglini was issued summonses in May after police said he repeatedly defecated on the Holmdel High School track. He eventually pleaded guilty to relieving himself in public on one occasion and paid a $500 fine.
Adams argued that state law prevents police from taking and releasing mug shots of people charged with low-level offences, liked the one Tramaglini pleaded guilty to. In a letter he sent to the state attorney general’s office in February seeking a probe, Adams wrote that a review of township arrest reports involving similar municipal ordinances violations since 2007 revealed no instances in which mug shots were released.
Associated Press, The Associated Press