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  • By: Kevin Leckerman, Esq.
  • Published: February 12, 2015
A man sitting in a courtroom - Leckerman Law, LLC

On Thursday, 3 Washington Township police officers took the stand in trial of fellow officer Joseph DiBuonaventura, providing a range of testimony about the phone call that resulted in events leading up to the arrest of Assemblyman Paul Moriarty in the year 2012.

After a morning full of testimony from Sgt. Martin Calvello which paid attention to the call his cousin Ernie made to him the afternoon of 31st of July, relaying a concern about Moriarty’s attitude at the Nissan dealership where he worked. Det. Lisa Frattali, who heard them talking took the stand and said why she mentioned it to DiBuonaventura.

Frattali, who was going outside to place a phone call to DiBuonaventura about an unrelated domestic violence incident from the previous night, said she was walking past Calvello’s desk when she heard him say “What do you mean Moriarty is drunk at Nissan?”

Frattali also heard Calvello saying, “Moriarty is drunk at Nissan” but said she never asked DiBuonaventura to investigate. When asked why she told DiBuonaventura, she replied, “I thought I was talking to my friend”.

After 10 minutes, she called DiBuonaventura again to inform him that she did not have more details. She said DiBuonaventura then asked her what car Moriarty drives, and she laughed and replied “we all know” what he drives due to his special legislative plates.

Frattali told that while she knew DiBuonaventura will possibly go to the Nissan dealership area and “see if he saw [Moriarty]”, she thought if there was a requirement for a police response to the situation, Calvello will have arranged it.

A week ago, she said that DiBuonaventura called and asked Frattali to write a supplemental police report in which it should be written that she had “sent” DiBuonaventura to Nissan, which she refused again and again due to the reason that she said that never happened.

“I said ‘I didn’t send you up there” and [DiBuonaventura] said ‘I just need you to write it,” ‘said Frattali, saying later she thought if the stop “was good,” meaning there was probable cause, there will be no requirement for her report.

Frattali said, “I didn’t want to get involved because I didn’t trust what he was telling me. I kept asking if there was a problem with the stop and he kept avoiding the question”.

Attention was paid by defense lawyer Louis Barbone on his cross-examination on Frattali’s family’s political ties and her hesitation to write a report.

Barbone paid attention to the transcript of Frattali’s interview with Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office Sgt. Hemphill, who investigated the charges against DiBuonaventura.

Hemphill was told by Frattali that she “was pissed” at DiBuonaventura for this “circus” and that she didn’t want to get involved due to the reason that she “didn’t want to put my family through that”.

In a reply, Assistant Prosecutor Audrey Curwin focused her redirect questions on the time period between the day DiBuonaventura took Moriarty into custody on 31st of July and the day he asked Frattali to write the supplemental report on 7th of August. She also questioned Frattali if DiBuonaventura could have included his telephonic conversation with Frattali in his initial police report on 31st of July which has no mention of the conversation. The report also states DiBuonaventura’s cause for stopping Moriarty was that Moriarty “cut off” DiBuonaventura. Frattali said he could have reported the conversation that had given the clue of Moriarty’s whereabouts, and she never told him not to.

The final witness paid attention on Moriarty’s presence in the police station after his arrest, as Cpl. Preston Forchion of the police’s traffic safety unit took the stand.

Forchion was asked questions by Curwin about his years of experience and training on DWI, drug intoxication and breath test operation, but soon asked about what he saw on 31st of July.

Forchion said that he was in the police station when one of the officers certified to run the Alcotest machine; he was asked to run the test on a DWI suspect. After he walked into the processing room and saw Moriarty there, he said he came back and said to his supervisor he did not want to run the test.

Forchion said, “I said ‘I don’t believe Mr. Moriarty was impaired,” and told he heard Moriarty talk and did not see any sign of impairment. He was then asked by his supervisor to run the test.

Both times, when he first entered and then returned to the processing room, Forchion said he never noticed any smell of alcohol. That was not common, he said due to the reason that the smell of alcohol is usually thick in the air when a DWI suspect is being processed. Forchion added, “I didn’t see anything indicative of someone who was intoxicated”.

Moriarty, in conversation with DiBuonaventura at the station, refused to give breath sample for testing and has since said it was due to the reason that he was suspect of the process and afraid any individual could tamper with the machine.

In his cross-examination of Forchion, Barbone who focused that 2 other officers wrote reports which showed that they did smell alcohol and asked if he’s seen suspects’ intoxication levels “run the gamut” of wildly drunk to possibly impaired.

Forchion replied, “No. If I arrest someone, I believe they are intoxicated”.

Barbone then changed his questioning again toward possible political ties and asked Forchion if he had political aspirations. Forchion said he might one day run for office, and confirmed he’s spoken with State Sen. Fred Madden. He told that he had never been to Madden’s Johnson Road office and didn’t know he shared it with Moriarty.

The trial is stopped for the rest of the week, and will start again on Tuesday at 9 a.m. when the prosecution will continue to call its witnesses. It was expected that it will complete on Wednesday; when the defense will make its case.

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