By Brett Gillin
They say you can’t fight city hall, but Washington Township Police Officer Joseph DiBuonaventura may be the exception to that rule. Officer DiBuonaventura has been found not guilty on all 14 charges against him, which stemmed from a 2012 arrest of a state assemblyman on suspicion of DUI. Now, while DiBuonaventura is satisfied with the results of his month long trial, he may not be finished trying to clear his good name.
Officer DiBuonaventura’s ordeal started on July 31, 2012, when he pulled over Assemblyman Paul D. Moriarty (D., Gloucester). According to court documents and this article on Philly.com, DiBuonaventura pulled Moriarty over when he observed him “failing to maintain a lane.” When Moriarty refused to take a breathalyzer test, DiBuonaventura arrested Moriarty on suspicion of DUI. Shortly after the arrest, however, DiBuonaventura found himself at the center of a firestorm.
According to this article on NJ.com, the charges against Moriarty were dismissed in May of 2013, shortly after DiBuonaventura was brought up on charges. The prosecutor’s office argued that because DiBuonaventura falsely arrested Moriarty, lied about the reason for pulling him over, and targeted him politically, Moriarty could not be prosecuted. But DiBuonaventura could, as the serious allegations against him led to indictment on a total of 14 criminal counts.
DiBuonaventura’s trial began on February 2, where he and his defense team argued that the three counts of tampering with records, three counts of falsifying records, three counts of false swearing, and five counts of official misconduct were all bogus.
The jury heard a month’s worth of evidence, including a video recording of the pursuit and arrest, and testimony from Detective Lisa Frattali who told the jury that another detective claimed that Moriarty was drunk when he left a car dealership shortly before his arrest. After a 10-hour deliberation, DiBuonaventura was found not guilty on each count against him.
“If a regular man hears the facts of this case, and sees what (DiBuonaventura) saw, there’s no way he would be convicted,” Louis Barbone, DiBuonaventura’s defense attorney told reporters with the Courier Post. “Any cop would do what he did.”
Now that DiBuonaventura has been cleared of all charges, he wants to get back to work, according to his attorney. He has been suspended without pay since he was indicted on these charges, and it’s currently up to the Washington Township Police Chief Rafael Muniz to decide if he can begin work immediately or if he will have to undergo internal discipline. A statement released from his office claims that he has reviewed the verdict and respects the jury’s decision, however they are “in the process of reviewing all legal options.”
For his part, DiBuonaventura is not going to simply get back to work and forget this ordeal. According to NJ.com, DiBuonaventura feels that this case was brought about him as “retribution,” and he will be “taking on city hall,” now that his name has been cleared.
“Stay tuned for my whistleblowing,” DiBuonaventura told reporters. “They’re all political cronies, it should’ve never gotten to this point.” His attorney told reporters “Now Joe will be thinking about if he wants to sue based on the verdict. He has had his life almost destroyed. It’s been no walk in the park for him or his family.”
DiBuonaventura now has a civic case pending against both Washington Township and Police Chief Rafael Muniz.