Juan Bellu, the former assistant business administrator in Brick Township, has dropped a lawsuit against the township asking to be reinstated in a civil service position that the administration of Mayor John Ducey claimed was fraudulently obtained.
Bellu, who was hired in January 2008 by former mayor Stephen C. Acropolis as a Data Processing Systems Programmer, was quickly promoted and given salary increases and eventually became the assistant business administrator. The hiring became controversial when Acropolis was hired as executive director of the Toms River Municipal Utilities Authority, for which Bellu serves as a commissioner. Ducey suspended Bellu on his first day as mayor, then fired him. Bellu, in turn, sued the township and filed numerous grievances with the state Civil Service Commission.
Bellu dropped his suit against the township on Tuesday, Ducey said.
“Mr. Bellu signed a release, releasing the township from all claims for zero dollars,” said Ducey. “It’s over with, it’s dismissed.”
The township will not seek damages from Bellu to recoup the money it spent to defend the suit, Ducey said. The township’s attorneys advised that such action could prove costly and success was not guaranteed.
The end of the legal action comes two months after the township filed a motion in the case alleging Bellu lied about having earned a college degree from Montclair State University on his job application for the original civil service title. The township also reiterated claims that the civil service title was a fraud used as a vehicle to hire Bellu in the first place.
The township’s labor attorney wrote in the March 6 brief that Bellu did not take a leave of absence from his civil service position in 2008 to take the appointed position. Instead, documents obtained during the discovery process showed a leave of absence form was entered for Bellu three years later to retroactively cover the period of March 5, 2008 to March 5, 2009. Then, after a one-day return to the civil service position, multiple leaves of absence were entered for Bellu in February and March 2012, to cover him for the period of March 6, 2009 through March 5, 2013. Since Bellu did not request the leave of absence from his civil service title when he took the appointed job in Brick government in 2008 – instead later “forging” leave of absence requests – he abandoned claims to civil service protection, the township argued.