EXETER — Former borough police Sgt. Leonard Galli’s termination last August was justified, an arbitrator has ruled.
Galli had grieved his termination last year, in which officials accused him of using borough computers to conduct personal business, in violation of his probation in connection with earlier problems in the workplace.
“The pity is that the borough is losing an excellent officer of the law, a professional in his field, and a leader in every sense,” arbitrator Ralph H. Colflesh wrote.
But, Colflesh added, “all he had to do was avoid any use of the borough’s property for purposes that were clearly not those of the borough.”
Reached Friday afternoon, Galli said he was not immediately able to comment but may have a statement soon.
Council first terminated Galli from the police department in July 2014 after allegations he used a workplace computer to view pornographic materials and arrange sexual encounters, as the Times Leader reported then.
In September 2015, Colflesh determined that termination was excessive and ruled in favor of reinstating Galli on a three-year probationary status.
Last summer, the borough terminated Galli again, based on his alleged use of borough computer equipment for purposes related to outside business enterprises.
The matter came before Colflesh, who had handled the original arbitration, after Galli filed a grievance over the firing through his union, the Exeter Police Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 36.
According to the arbitrator’s ruling denying the grievance:
Colflesh said he had set strict rules for the probation, concluding the borough would have grounds for immediate dismissal if Galli used borough computers for “any purpose other than borough business.”
“In reinstating him, I was conscious of the fact the borough had suffered no real harm from the original violation and that Mr. Galli had an exemplary record as a police officer. These factors mitigated what I found to be a harsh response from the borough and merited a mitigation of his termination,” Colflesh wrote.
The latest termination stemmed from the borough’s discovery of copies of enrollment forms for Galli’s Fighting Chance School of Self Defense and an application for one of Galli’s residential rental houses that had been discarded in a waste can near the computer.
Those discoveries prompted the borough to rehire forensic computer expert Dennis Cheng, who had served as a witness in Galli’s 2015 termination case. Cheng found various material related to Fighting Chance and a deleted browser and user history on the borough computer used by Galli.
Additional material “patently and solely connected” to Galli’s business interests was found through a monitoring device placed on the computer.
The union had argued one of Galli’s borough computer uses was before his work shift and that others could have some connection or benefit to the borough.
But Galli could have used cheap and portable tablets, smart phones or laptops of his own if he faced an immediate need to communicate about his business or personal concerns while on duty, Colflesh noted.
“All of us make mistakes, and many of us make the same mistake twice. However, the penalties often increase proportionally, as is the case here,” Colflesh wrote in reference to the latest alleged infraction.
Colflesh said advocating termination is his only choice because the terms of his original 2015 award would be “meaningless” if he didn’t enforce them now.
Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.