Last updated: May 21. 2014 12:28AM - 4008 Views
By - rdupuis@timesleader.com

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WILKES-BARRE — The gag order is off. The interview may still be on.

Luzerne County Judge William Amesbury on Tuesday lifted a preliminary injunction that was preventing Exeter Borough from holding a disciplinary hearing against suspended police Sgt. Leonard Galli, who has been accused by borough officials of using his work computer for personal business, viewing pornography and setting up sexual encounters.

Galli filed suit last month to block an “investigative interview” in which the allegations would have become public — something he argued was not supposed to happen under a deal worked out with borough officials.

None of the allegations was criminal in nature.

Amesbury, who granted the initial injunction last month, wrote Tuesday that Galli “has failed to present necessary irreparable harm” and ordered the lifting both of a gag order and a seal on documents in the case, many of which include details of the borough’s accusations.

According to Galli’s lawsuit, the borough illegally backed out of a discipline agreement, under which Galli agreed to a demotion and pay cut and the borough agreed to keep all details of his suspension confidential.

Galli, hired as a full-time officer in 1993, was placed on administrative leave on Feb. 5 after investigation into his computer use, according to documents filed by the borough.

During Galli’s leave, the parties engaged in settlement negotiations, the borough’s filing states.

A draft agreement would have seen Galli suspended without pay for two weeks, then demoted to patrolman for a year, during which time he would not be able to participate in any supervisory capacity.

He would have seen his base pay reduced by $1,000, to $55,475. Galli also would be required to take a psychological exam assessing his fitness for duty.

The borough replied that Galli rejected the draft agreement “based, in part, on the inclusion of specific reference to his conduct, and requested material revisions.”

Amesbury wrote that “there remain significant factual differences between the parties and proof required to substantiate (Galli’s) claim of contract.”

According to Galli and his attorney, Kimberly Borland, the interview would have seen Galli questioned before a court reporter, and a transcript of that proceeding would then be open to the public and media — intended as an attempt to reveal confidential information and embarrass him, according to Galli’s suit.

The information became public the morning of April 17, when Philadelphia attorney Joseph C. Rudolf, representing the borough, filed documents outlining Exeter’s allegations against Galli prior to Amesbury’s gag order and seal, which were imposed later that morning.

Efforts to reach Rudolf were not successful Tuesday.

“The dissolution of the injunction is unfortunate, but it resulted from the actions of Exeter Borough,” Borland said Tuesday night, adding that the material was disclosed by Exeter while the sides were awaiting argument on the injunction.

The borough maintains thousands of pornographic photos and videos containing “the most extreme, graphic hardcore imagery” were discovered on a borough computer regularly used by Galli, and he regularly visited websites in search of sexual encounters.

The judge’s order, Borland said, is simply a recognition that “the law can’t close the barn door … .”

Mr. Galli will continue his fight to have the agreement enforced, Borland added.

Amesbury was initially assigned the case only after Judge Fred A. Pierantoni III recused himself on the morning of April 17, citing familiarity with Galli and Exeter officials.

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