Councilwoman Accuses Colleague in Leak, Calls for Resignation
Deputy Mayor says councilwoman’s allegations follow series of false claims.
Councilwoman Barbara Toffler this week called for a council colleague to resign and said she would seek to have criminal charges brought against the longtime political adversary amid a swirl of allegations following Teaneck’s municipal election.
In a statement read at Tuesday’s council meeting, Toffler said a voicemail she received from a Teaneck Suburbanite reporter “contemporaneously” identified the person responsible for leaking confidential information about a personnel compliant filed against her last year, who she later said was Deputy Mayor Adam Gussen.
“The voicemail comes in at 5:42 on January 31, 2011 and describes a discussion Deputy Mayor Gussen is having with the Record reporter,” Toffler said in the statement. The caller, Toffler said, asked her about what was apparently overheard in that conversation from another person who she did not identify.
A day after the voice message, the Record published a story containing the confidential information before it was legally made public, her statement said.
“Adam Gussen is the person who leaked the letter,” Toffler said in an interview Wednesday, referring to the complaint filed against her by the town manager. “I would put my hand on the bible and swear that he released the letter.”
The councilwoman, who recently lost her bid for a second term, said she would pursue action against Gussen.
“I am going to pursue this and make every effort that a criminal charge will be brought against him and he will have to resign from the council,” Toffler said.
Toffler did not provide additional evidence, beyond what she acknowledged was likely considered “hearsay” surrounding the phone message. She said she has not filed any formal complaints, but was consulting with her attorney.
Gussen said Toffler’s claim followed a pattern of false allegations she leveled against Teaneck’s police chief and township manager. Toffler was censured in February for what a council resolution called “erroneous and unsupported” claims in the press against the two officials.
Toffler had a chance to depose anyone she believed was behind the leak through a lawsuit she filed against the town council, but opted not to, Gussen said. She could also report any wrongdoing to the county prosecutor’s office, he added.
“I don’t believe she will do that for her yet again unsubstantiated accusations,” Gussen said.
“This is bitter, petty, vindictive and Teaneck deserves better,” he said.
The leaked letter came after Toffler struck a parked car and left the scene. Police ticketed her, but the councilwoman publically accused Township Manager William Broughton and Police Chief Robert Wilson of spreading news about her fender-bender in retaliation for her opposition to a plan to create a public safety director position. The council resolution said the two officials did nothing wrong.
According to the February censure resolution, Toffler told the council she had no evidence to support her claim against the chief and manager. Toffler lost a lawsuit she filed against the town council seeking to have the censure tossed.
Township officials have denied a request for the letter filed under the state's Open Public Records Act.
Her allegations against Gussen came admit a flurry of complaints over last-minute campaign tactics leading up to the May 8 municipal election. The councilwoman cited negative e-mails, anonymous phone calls and a robo-call urging residents not to vote for her.
Toffler was also accused of removing campaign signs for Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin and Councilman-elect Mark Schwartz from a lawn on Wendel Place.