Clark, NJ whistleblower might sue, months after racist tapes emerge
CLARK — A former police officer has accused the township of making life more difficult, as “payback” for going public this year with his six-figure payoff for covering up the use of racial slurs used by the mayor and police chief.
Ex-police Lt. Antonio Manata filed an intent-to-sue in September against Clark, as first reported by NJ Advance Media.
This is six months after recordings were released of Clark Mayor Sal Bonaccorso, Clark Police Chief Pedro Matos, internal affairs supervisor Sgt. Joseph Teston and Clark Police Capt. Vincent Concina all using disturbing language, including the N-word and other offensive slurs.
Bonaccorso is heard in the audio posted to Youtube at the end of March by NJ.com, repeatedly referring to Black people as “spooks.”
Another segment of the audio clips — recorded between 2018 and 2019 — refers to lockers for police officers.
Bonaccorso says “As far as female cops well, I hope there is never any… but I can only take care while I’m here. They’re all f***ing disasters that I’ve seen.”
Despite calls for Bonaccorso to resign, he did not.
Matos, Concina and Teston have been on paid suspension since July 2020, according to previous reports, when the Union County Prosecutor’s Office took over the town police force, to launch “a full inquiry into credible allegations of misconduct.”
Once the audio was released, Bonaccorso did apologize for using words that were “hurtful and insensitive,” continuing he was “embarrassed and ashamed to have spoken that way about a race of people. I have learned, and I have changed and it will not happen again.”
After going public with the $400,000 that he was paid by the township in attempts to keep the recordings from surfacing, Manata now has claimed that he has been dealt repeated blowback from Clark officials.
He said a firearms permit, needed to work as a former law enforcement officer, was intentionally not processed.
Manata also said that the township also stopped picking up his recycling.
The township rejects those claims, according to NJ Advance Media, saying that a number of Clark residents were impacted by issues with a third-party recycling vendor.
Nearly a year ago, the Clark Police Department swore in five new police officers on Dec. 1, including two African American/Black officers from Irvington.
The milestone was applauded as “essentially what is the equivalent of breaking the color barrier of policing in Clark, NJ,” by Rahway NAACP President Quanae Palmer Chambliss on Facebook. She added “To our knowledge this is a historic first.”
Earlier that year, Clark also welcomed two new female officers to the police force, according to a September 2021 Facebook post.
While Gov. Phil Murphy, U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and some neighboring municipal officials had joined the call for Bonaccorso to step down, an online public petition urging his resignation has collected less than 700 signatures in six months.