Hispanic cops tarnished by JCPD off-duty scandal sue for discrimination

Two Hispanic cops placed on modified duty due to the JCPD’s off-duty jobs scandal claim they’ve been discriminated against because a white superior officer in a similar situation was promoted to deputy chief while they were passed over for sergeant.

Left to Right: P.O. Alexander Vilas, Deputy Chief Nicola “Nic” Flora, and P.O. Melissa Sanchez of Jersey City Police Department.

Two Jersey City Police Department (JCPD) officers that were targeted by federal authorities for their possible involvement with off-duty corruption, yet never charged, are now claiming they’ve been discriminated against for promotion because they are Hispanic.

According to a lawsuit filed in Hudson County Superior Court on May 5, 2020, the Hispanic officers argue that because JCPD Deputy Chief Nicola “Nic” Flora is a Caucasian male, and was promoted while placed on modified duty “for the same reason” as the plaintiffs, it’s racist that they aren’t being promoted as well.

The plaintiffs, Melissa Sanchez and Alexander Vilas, are members of the Forgotten Five – a group of JCPD cops that were on paid suspension for over two years because of issues arising from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) probe into the city’s police off-duty jobs program.

Prior to being suspended with pay in May 2017, Sanchez and Vilas were placed on modified duty in January 2017 due to the FBI investigation. Over two years later, after it was reported the Forgotten Five were paid over $1 million while on suspension, the plaintiffs were placed back on modified duty and have continued to work in that capacity since.

Of note, while on suspension, Sanchez and Vilas received notifications in May 2018 that they could not be promoted to sergeant because of their modified status, per details from the complaint.

Despite the reputations of Sanchez and Vilas being tarnished by the off-duty scandal, the lawsuit states that “to this day, plaintiffs have not received any information as to whether they are being investigated,” and that they “have not been charged with any offenses.”

Flora was placed on modified duty in January 2018 when he was identified as a target in the FBI probe. Similar to Sanchez and Vilas, he remains uncharged.

Although it’s unclear if/when Flora was removed from modified duty, he was sworn-in as a provisional-deputy chief in August 2018 without his gun (indicating he was on modified duty at the time). The lawsuit states Flora was “promoted, notwithstanding his modified status,” on March 11, 2019.

The plaintiffs are represented by the law firm Mets Schiro & McGovern, LLP, and are seeking “compensatory damages, including but not limited to, damages for economic losses, back pay, front pay, pain and suffering, emotional distress and psychological injury.”

Of note, the Fulop administration refuses to answer questions and/or provide information to Real Garden State, but this article will be updated if/when they decide to provide comment.

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