January 13, 2023
GIRARDVILLE — Borough council Wednesday took formal action to fire its suspended officer-in-charge, Fabrizio Bivona.
After going into a two-minute executive session, council returned and unanimously passed the motion to dismiss.
Bivona was hired in March following the resignation of the former chief, Fred Lahovski.
After Wednesday's meeting, borough solicitor Arlen R. Day II said Bivona was informed on Dec. 11 that he was suspended, effective that day.
In a letter sent to Bivona on behalf of the borough, Day said the suspension was "due to your conduct regarding the issue with the evidence room, which includes refusing to provide the mayor with the key when directed to do so."
Bivona did not attend Wednesday's meeting. Before the meeting, he provided a reporter with written responses to the borough's allegations.
Responding to the allegation about the evidence room, Bivona said: "The mayor's (Judith Mehlbaum) order for the key to the evidence room which would have allowed and facilitated unsupervised access to the evidence room was inappropriate and illegal."
Bivona said access to the room can be granted to the mayor and other borough officials, but it must be supervised by a legal custodian, and there must be a legitimate reason to access the room to ensure the "integrity of the evidence and chain of custody."
He also wrote that giving unsupervised access to the room would grant access to secured evidence, including firearms, dangerous weapons, drugs and fentanyl.
Day said that another letter was sent to Bivona on Dec. 30, suspending him again for his conduct.
That letter from Day gave reasons for the second suspension, including alleged conduct related to: failing to consistently punch his time card; working when told not to work; filing citations against fellow officers when suspended; filing unwarranted citations against fellow officer; making false and misleading statements; falsely representing himself as chief of police; and failing to turn in his badge, keys and other borough property when told to do so.
Day said that he could not go into details about the suspensions due to the ongoing investigation of the borough by the state attorney general's office.
He also said that additional comments would be inappropriate since there may be pending litigation.
Bivona, in addressing the allegation that the criminal charges he filed against the two officers were not warranted, noted the active investigation into the borough.
"You have unilaterally shredded the US Constitution and due process and made a false declarative statement without the judicial process to determine guilt or innocence," Bivona wrote.
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