Settlement reached between Barnegat Township and Police Chief
Details are being released from an investigation into Barnegat Police Chief Art Drexler, whose been under suspension since the summer of 2016.
Drexler was suspended on July 25 of 2016 with pay and investigated for the manner in which he allegedly logged his pay.
In an official statement the Township announced that it had, at the time, believed Drexler "improperly credited himself with compensatory time to which he was not contractually titled."
The Ocean County Prosecutors Office, who handled the investigation, found that there was insufficient credible evidence to support allegations Drexler intentionally deceived the township of compensation time.
It comes down to an interpretation of the language inside Drexler's contract about what he was entitled to and what the township committee thought he was entitled to, the settlement reads.
From July through December of 2016 Drexler entered multiple pleas of 'not guilty' to charges he violated the police departments rules and regulations, and cooperated with the investigation fully throughout even providing a voluntary statement on October 19.
The Prosecutors Office "administratively closed" its investigation on December 5, but Drexler told the township he intended to file suit his termination was unfounded and as a result made settlement demands.
The Township stuck by its belief Drexler violated rules because he "improperly credited himself with compensatory time," that he wasn't entitled to.
A Pre-hearing conference began on January 5 of 2017, and a settlement was announced this week between both sides.
As a result Drexler was reinstated to his post as chief within the department effective on August 19 of 2016 until his retirement February 1 of 2017.
The township also dismissed all charged pinned against Drexler deeming them void and won't pursue any future charges.
Township Attorney Jerry Dasti had declined Tuesday morning to comment on whether these allegations into Drexler giving himself this comp time and pay in a manner prohibited, and whether some of the rules were too vague.
"I'm not going to comment on that," said Dasti.
He did explain that as a result of the settlement agreement between the township and the now former police chief, that Drexler can retire after 31 years of service and collect accrued compensation.
By tomorrow the township must pay Drexler $240,000.00 owed to him allocated to retroactive salary accrued and balance owed to both him and the law firm representing him.
"There were some back-payments that were do to him...unused vacation time and that kind of thing," said Dasti. "There's a $240,000.00 compensation made to him, some of which was just regular salary which would then be in his pension, and some of which was for unused benefits that he had accrued."
He denied reports that Drexler had been "exonerated" as reported by Micromedia Publications by saying that, "the parties agreed to settle before any final decision would be made regarding the charges."
Other details given by Dasti regarding the settlement express that there is no language inside the agreement which would prevent Drexler from pursuing a public sector job in the future.
"It doesn't stop him from looking for another position," said Dasti.
With the search for a new chief bound to be underway, Dasti explains that the decision will be made by township officials.
"That's something for the township committee to review and make a determination about," said Dasti.
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