By Amy Batista, Special Writer
HIGHSTOWN – Borough officials approved the hiring of a new police officer to the ranks Monday night to fill the vacancy of Officer Frank Marchione, who was fired last September.
“The new person is filling in the vacancy from (Mr.) Marchione,” said Borough Administrator Henry Underhill in an email on Wednesday.
The police department has 12 officers, which Mr. Underhill said are all filled, with one currently on maternity leave.
According to its resolution, in order to maintain the health, safety and welfare of the public at large, the council has determined it necessary to hire a rank-and-file police officer.
Lt. Frank Gendron recommended that the council appoint Vincent Doell of Lacey as a PTC Certified Hightstown Borough Police Officer, according to the resolution.
The employment of appointee Mr. Doell shall be conditioned upon his passing all applicable borough requirements, according to the resolution.
The new officer will fill the vacancy of police Officer Frank Marchione, who was fired on Sept. 21, 2015 after being found “unfit for duty,” as previously reported.
The council voted 5-1 to terminate Mr. Marchione, with Councilman Charles “Lee” Stults voting against firing him. The council passed a resolution adopting the hearing officer’s recommendation authorizing the termination of Mr. Marchione and the authorizing the borough administrator to recoup the salary.
The department hired Mr. Marchione on Jan. 1, 2001. Prior to working for the borough, he was an officer for Middlesex County College from July 1998 through December 2000.
Mr. Marchione was suspended on Aug. 22, 2013. In October 2013, he was accused of having sex while on duty. At that time, he was also accused of an alleged incident that occurred on June 14, 2013, involving then Hightstown Engine Co. No. 1 Deputy Chief Scott Jenkins, as previously reported.
“Mr. Marchione was charged with two notices of disciplinary action,” Borough Labor Attorney Elizabeth Garcia said, adding that the latter one was dismissed during the Sept. 21, 2015 meeting.
The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office reviewed the allegations and determined criminal prosecution was not warranted.
In January of last year, Mr. Marchione was charged with being “unfit for duty.” The additional charges levied against Mr. Marchione alleged that he was incapable and/or unable of performing his duties as a police officer because he was not fit for duty; incapable and/or unable of performing his duties as a police officer because he was prohibited from carrying, using or being near weapons by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office; and that he was no longer qualified to be a police officer and unable to perform his duties because he is no longer authorized to carry a firearm, which is a requirement under New Jersey law, as previously reported.
Mr. Marchione returned to court last week, where the judge ruled in favor of him forcing the borough to reimburse him all legal expenses.
“When a municipality goes after a police officer’s job on a completely fraudulent allegation, they are responsible for the officer’s legal fees when the case against him crumbles,” said Christopher Gray, Mr. Marchione’s lawyer in a email on Tuesday.
“That is exactly what happened here.”Resident and former council member Lynne Woods said that “this Lt. (Frank Gendron) has already cost taxpayers $24,000 to $30,000 on false charges.” “Ok, let’s say charges that were unfounded against one of his police officers and we are not even done yet,” she said. “There’s still an appeal pending on that,”
Mr. Gray said that there is a hearing on Mr. Marchione’s fitness for duty case, which is scheduled for May 2.
By Amy Batista, Special Writer