Bomb squad boss files whistleblower lawsuit, says he was removed over reporting a bribe: I-Team

I-Team

CLEVELAND (WJW) – The FOX 8 I-Team has found a Cleveland Police lieutenant has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the chief, the safety director and two other police supervisors, saying he was removed as head of the bomb squad for reporting a man offering a bribe.

Lt. Timothy Maffo-Judd wants to get his job back with the bomb squad and he’s seeking financial damages.

Mafffo-Judd went undercover and recorded a Tremont bar owner offering money while looking for protection so that his bar could stay open after hours and he could be alerted to any police raids.

The I-Team obtained and aired the video earlier this year when the bar owner went to prison.

Attorneys Michael Polito and Nathaniel Szep with the firm Polito, Rodstrom, Burke filed the suit saying Maffo-Judd was a victim of retaliation.

“We filed the case under the whistleblower statute,” Polito said. “He was removed as the officer in charge of the bomb squad. He reported a bribe. He did the right thing and then he was punished.”

The suit says Maffo-Judd had a meeting with the owner of the Duck Island Social Club set up by Sergeant Vincent Montague.

That led to the undercover investigation. The suit says investigators considered whether or not Montague and the bar owner should be indicted.

Montague has never been hit with any criminal charges.

However, the police department has filed 17 internal charges seeking internal discipline against Montague for having contact with that bar owner ten times throughout the bribery investigation.

The lawsuit says the chief “has a personal relationship with defendant Montague that can be likened to the two treating each other like family members.”

It also said Maffo-Judd “was removed from the bomb squad because he reported to his chain of command that a bribe took place while in the presence of Montague.”

When we reached out to the mayor’s office for comment, a spokesperson sent an email saying, “This is part of ongoing litigation and we have no additional comment.”

 We also left messages for Montague seeking comment. As of late Friday afternoon, we had not heard back.

In January, a Cuyahoga County judge sentenced Andrew Long, owner of the bar, to a year in prison and a $10,000 fine.

On the undercover video from the bribe investigation, you hear Maffo-Judd say, “You’ve been cited a couple times in the past, and you don’t want to get cited.”  

Long answers, “Right.” 

The officer then asks, “Do you want an officer here or do you just want information? What do you want?” 

Long then says, “My goal is to not get busted by Vice or the state anymore. Whatever I need to do.”

At one point, he adds, “I just want to be off the (expletive) list. I just don’t want to get in trouble for after-hours anymore.”

The suit also says Captain Matthew Gallagher told Maffo-Judd he was being removed as head of the bomb squad.

The suit says, “Upon being informed that he would no longer be officer in charge of the bomb squad, plaintiff asked defendant Gallagher what the reason was for the decision to remove him as officer in charge and was told that (Chief) Williams directed him to remove plaintiff from his position as officer in charge of the bomb squad.”

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