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Judge denies Newton police secretary's request to sue mayor personally

Posted by Evan Allen  September 4, 2013 12:54 PM

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A federal judge today denied an attempt by a Newton Police Department secretary who is suing the city to add Mayor Setti Warren personally as a defendant in the civil complaint.

"Obviously, we're pleased, and it's what we were anticipating," said City Solicitor Donnalyn B. Lynch Kahn. "We did not think that those additional claims were meritorious."

Secretary Jeanne Sweeney Mooney filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in March against the city, Warren in his official capacity, the former police chief Matthew Cummings, and two former department employees, alleging that she was set up on theft charges after complaining about the former chief.

She was placed on paid administrative leave in September 2011 after being accused of stealing office funds, and was acquitted by a jury in May.

Last month, her attorney John Tocci filed a motion to add the mayor personally, alleging he was involved in a conspiracy to bring false criminal charges against the woman.

The motion also sought to bring an abuse of process charge against Warren, Cummings, and Lieutenant Edward Aucoin, who is now retired. That request was also denied.

Kahn represents the city, Warren and Aucoin; Cummings and the other former department employee named in the suit, Vincent Nguyen have separate lawyers.

Cummings's attorney, Timothy M. Burke, said he was pleased with Wednesday's ruling.

"Obviously it was the right decision," said Burke. "Obviously, we didn't believe the motion [as it related to Cummings] had any merit, and obviously the court agreed."

The ruling by United States District Judge Rya W. Zobel does not explain why Tocci's motion to amend was denied.

"I'd certainly love to know what law the judge premised her decision on," said Tocci. "We obviously believe it's wrong, but what are you going to do? Judges are sometimes wrong, they're only human."

Tocci declined to say what his next step would be. Mooney, who has been offered her job back by the city, remains on sick leave, according to Kahn and Tocci.

Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com

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