FOLSOM, Pa. (CBS) — A federal lawsuit makes shocking allegations that at least one Ridley Township official not only hindered police investigations but interfered with them too.
The chairman of the board, a police captain and township managers were all named in a 45-page federal lawsuit alleging severe retaliation after two Ridley Township police detectives were suddenly removed from their specialized unit because officials believed they cooperated with federal investigators.READ MORE: Philadelphia Mother Pleading To Find Driver Who Struck Son In Hit-And-Run, 'Guardian Angel' Who Found Him
Detectives Sean Brydges and Gerard Scanlan, who are members of an FBI Task Force, made up a specialized anti-crime unit in Ridley Township until last week when they were reassigned.
The lawsuit is alleging further context, claiming Robert Willert, the chairman of the township’s board of commissioners, suspected the pair were providing information against the township to the FBI.
Attorneys Andres Jalon and Robert Gambert represent Brydges and Scanlan.
“We’re looking at a complaint that involves the conspiracy of high-ranking members of the Ridley Township Police in doing a number of criminal acts, some specifically against our clients,” Jalon said. “These acts range from the misuse of funds and evidence to the demotion of our officers, our clients, our detectives, to just, quite frankly, hostile work environment and abuse. These are exemplary detectives. All they want to do is their job. That’s all they want to do.”
In the lawsuit, attorneys spelled out years of alleged threats by Ridley Township Police Capt. Scott Willoughby, claiming he’d “get them guys.”
The suit, filed late Tuesday night, alleges the captain would remove cash seized from narcotics arrests and would later replace it with money from new narcotics busts. That claim is some seven years old.
The officers reported the alleged conduct, according to the suit.
“All of the administration learns that our two clients, two police detectives made this complaint. And from that point on they are just treated as black sheep. For the next seven, eight years, they have to endure everything that’s spelled out in the complaint,” Jalon said.
The most recent reported trouble came last week, when the lawsuit claims Willert believed the patrolman provided information to the FBI, initiating a federal investigation. In retaliation, it’s claimed he ordered the anti-crime unit disbanded.
BREAKING: A federal lawsuit filed Tuesday night against Ridley Township’s top cop, elected and township officials by two recently reassigned patrolmen has spotlighted the existence of a federal investigation into township officials. Story at 4:30, 5 & 6 @CBSPhilly pic.twitter.com/vaL4InRhWS
— Joe Holden (@JoeHoldenCBS3) February 3, 2021READ MORE: Philadelphia's Evil Genius Beer Company Giving Out Free Beers To Those Getting Vaccinated In May
The official reassignment of the officers drew immediate condemnation from the local Fraternal Order of Police.
“I think it’s absurd. I mean you have got two highly decorated police officers here who come in and do their job day in and day out and now they’re being retaliated against because of wrongdoings that they saw in the administration of Ridley Township,” FOP Lodge 27 2nd Vice President Chris Eiserman said. “They removed them from a unit without cause and put them back on patrol, and it just makes no sense for us.”
Coincidentally on Wednesday morning, law enforcement sources say federal investigators returned to the township building. Neither the FBI or IRS would confirm or deny that.
The suit also alleges Willoughby retaliated against the officers for years, interfered in anti-crime unit investigations, and threatened to out the identities of the undercover officers. At one point, the suit claims Brydges was fearful for his family’s safety.
“This is not what they wanted. They put up with this for so long because they just wanted to be police officers,” Gambert said. “They just wanted to do what they were trained to do. They didn’t take this drastic step until they were forced to take it.”
Ridley Township and its officials said in a statement, “Ridley Township cannot comment on facts of the suit because we have not been served, but we question the timing of the lawsuit as it comes after the police department’s restructuring.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said they had no comment for this report. A spokesperson for the FBI said they would not confirm or deny the presence of FBI agents in Ridley Township.
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