The Township Council voted this week to pay legal fees incurred by Deputy Mayor Adam Gussen over a complaint filed last year by ex-councilwoman Barbara Toffler, who accused him of leaking confidential information to the media.
In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the council approved covering Gussen’s $3,408 legal bill for River Edge-based Hartmann, Doherty, Rosa, Berman & Bulbulia, LLC.
Councilwoman Lizette Parker said she supported paying for Gussen’s legal fees in the event she found herself accused and later cleared of wrongdoing.
“It’s not about an individual councilman. It’s about council people as a group that we need to support this,” said Councilman Henry Pruitt.
Toffler filed a criminal complaint accusing Gussen of official misconduct for allegedly using his council position to pass confidential information to The Record about a compliant Township Manager William Broughton had lodged against the councilwoman.
A newspaper article published in February 2011 revealed Broughton’s claim that Toffler had created a hostile work environment and interfered with public records requests.Toffler’s compliant accused Gussen of official misconduct, an indictable offense that carries a potential five year prison term. The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, however, downgraded the charge to harassment. A municipal prosecutor assigned to the case later said he couldn’t prove harassment and the charge was ultimately tossed.