Judge reverses decision, says Morristown official convicted of animal cruelty can keep town job

Morristown Chief Housing Inspector Tommy Alexander does not have to forfeit his $90,000 job over an animal cruelty conviction, a judge ruled on Thursday, reversing his own decision.

“Whether or not this touches upon his job is questionable and somewhat doubtful…I will not forfeit his position,” said Rockaway Township Municipal Judge Gerard Smith. The case was heard in Rockaway to avoid potential conflicts in Morristown.

OIN SECOND THOUGHT: Rockaway Township Municipal Judge Gerard Smith reversed himself, deciding that state law does not mandate that Morristown official Tommy Alexander lose his job over an animal cruelty conviction. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

ON SECOND THOUGHT: Rockaway Township Municipal Judge Gerard Smith reversed himself on Thursday, deciding that state law does not mandate that Morristown official Tommy Alexander lose his job over an animal cruelty conviction. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“We’re at the bottom of the hill, and starting to march back up,” Tommy’s lawyer, Gary Moylen, said after successfully arguing that his client’s conviction on charges of neglecting and starving his dog did not involve dishonesty or his official duties, and therefore did not warrant loss of his job under state law.

The attorney said he plans to appeal the disorderly persons convictions in state Superior Court, and he also will attempt to overturn Tommy’s suspension without pay by the town of Morristown.

“I’m happy for him. I’m glad it worked out,” said Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty, referring to Tommy, when told of the judge’s reversal. “I’m sure the business administrator will talk to him” on Friday about his job status.

Tommy, 61, was convicted last month of cruelty to his unlicensed mixed-breed dog, Satin. He was fined several thousand dollars and sentenced to community service with the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

During the trial, a veterinarian described Satin’s condition as a 2 on a 10-point scale, with 1 being near death. The dog was barely half of what would be considered a healthy weight, with protruding bones, and claws so long from inactivity that it could barely walk, let alone run, according to the veterinarian.

Initially, Judge Smith ruled that the state’s public forfeiture law mandated that Tommy, a Morristown employee for 35 years, lose his public job. At the time of the incidents last year, Tommy was Morristown’s director of human services and oversaw the town’s animal control operations.

Tommy Alexander, moments after a judge ruled he must lose his $90,000 municipal job in Morristown because of an animal cruelty conviction. His lawyer said he will appeal the verdict. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Tommy Alexander, shown in court last month, does not have to forfeit his $90,000 municipal job in Morristown over an animal cruelty conviction after all. A judge in Rockaway Township reversed his decision.Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Rockaway Township Municipal Prosecutor Peter King contended that Tommy tried to cover up the animal abuse by calling in his subordinate, the town’s animal control officer, who wound up testifying against her former boss. Tommy also attempted to mislead the court about his failure to license the dog, the prosecutor said.

“He thought he was above the law. Part of his job was to be sure that every other resident of Morristown” had to license his or her dog, Peter King said. The judge said he, too, was bothered by the licensing issue.

But Gary Moylen argued that Tommy was not charged with dishonesty or official misconduct. Among precedents that he cited was the case of former Jersey City Mayor Gerald McCann, whose conviction of mail fraud, income tax fraud and wire fraud did not warrant forfeiture of his public employment under state law.

The lawyer also noted that Tommy no longer heads the town’s human services department, following an administrative reshuffling in town hall.

Tommy, who is undergoing radiation treatments in New York for liver cancer, according to his lawyer, did not appear in court on Thursday. On the witness stand he professed love for Satin, but said that because he was moving to a Morristown apartment that did not accept pets he gave his dog to a Newark acquaintance named Frankie.

When the severely emaciated dog re-appeared in its old Morristown neighborhood shortly before Christmas last year, Tommy said, he called the town’s animal control officer for help.

The prosecutor asserted during the trial that Frankie was a fictitious character and that Tommy simply confined the dog in his old apartment without food, water or exercise.  The judge agreed and found Tommy guilty; he was especially dismayed by Tommy’s admission that he spent two days hunting for Frankie instead of taking the sickly dog for veterinary care.

Satin has a new name, new owners, and new health.

Defense attorney Gary Moylen, left, and Rockaway Township Municipal Prosecutor Peter King spar in animal cruelty case involving Morristown official Tommy Alexander. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Defense attorney Gary Moylen, left, and Rockaway Township Municipal Prosecutor Peter King spar Thursday in animal cruelty case involving Morristown official Tommy Alexander. Photo by Kevin Coughlin



Comments

  1. I am absolutely Horrified .. but NOT surprised . We all know american judges are the most corrupt in the world .. they are vile humans .. easily paid off ;) lets hope they believe in hell because its where they are going

  2. Teri Thorsteinson says:

    They should have banned him from owning another pet for life!

  3. Kris Pedersen says:

    What a disgusting —!!!! I’m glad “Satin” is out of his cruel hands! How could he sleep at night?!?!?! This poor, innocent dog was totally dependent on his mercy! I’m glad mr Alexander doesn’t work for MY town!!! Who could give him ANY respect after what he did to a helpless dog!!! I hate people like him!

  4. Okay, let me see if I get this right.

    This man is OVER Animal Control for this town and the Judge says his Starving his own dog does not reflect or affect how he does his job????
    Ii have never heard a DUMMER statement in my life!

    I can understand you not wanting to fire the man because he has liver cancer and would lose his benefits but he should be treated like anyone else and punished to the full extent of the law!

    What is wrong with you people!!!

  5. It is incredible how a news article can have people rush to judgement over someone. I have been following this case online and it seems to me all of the facts were not apparent. Sounds to me like Mr. Alexander is the victim of racial profiling of the worst type. Why would someone risk a long standing career over a pet that was given away? Doesnt make sense. But again, i’m not surprised over the judgement people have for Mr. Alexander not knowing him at all. I guess every black man who has owned a pet is now “Michael Vick” without being proven guilty. Shame.

  6. Helen Arnold says:

    All of the corrupt garbage will come front and center for sure and soon. Obviously there was more than non-dog mistreatment going on. Lets see who the fall guy will be. Tom A. has been a target for some time. It was so very not nice. These folks who are attaching their names to the madness will find it was not worth it. Would it not have been easier to try and fire the guy? Guess who was behind this?

  7. Janice Wilske says:

    Teresa, why is the race card always played? I don’t care who you are, what job you have. I don’t need to know you personally if you abuse an animal. Abuse is abuse no matter what and all people should be treated the same. This so called “man” should have charges filed against him!!!!!

  8. @Teresa, give me a break … Racial profiling ? As a Africa American myself, you comment is getting old !

    Sometimes people do break the law who happen to be black and thus is one of them !

  9. I am not a animal right activist by any means but this is just wrong. The judge should have fired him. His job is to oversee animals and he is neglecting his own. And my taxes are not only paying for his salary but for his chemo. take away both and let’s call it even for what you put that poor puppy through you piece of trash. As for the legal system? Very diappointing.

  10. Kevin Coughlin says:

    Nobody condones animal abuse. But this case will be appealed, so we have not heard the last word on this tragic situation. Fortunately, the dog is healthy and well cared for.

  11. Francine Cole says:

    Thanks to the ultimate law — divine, universal law, the chickens are coming home to roost, slowly but surely! Having been politically-targeted for destruction and defamed for decades, I agree, “… the corrupt garbage will come front and center soon and sure.” In fact, it already has been and still is!

    Tommy and at least one other person here (favorites of the previous administration) used their positions at town hall unjustly to target and defame my family and me for decades! For example, two years ago, Tommy left a notice, ordering me to shovel snow in front of our home, while neighbors and people all over town received no notice for not shoveling their sidewalks. Outrageously, in 1996, Tommy and his cohorts had our home placed on the front page of the MORRIS COUNTY DAILY RECORD — to promote themselves and humiliate us. They unjustly blamed us for neighborhood conditions that have always existed and continue exiting today — in worse ways, but no articles are being published! We were targeted due to a long history of antagonism between Tommy and his cohorts and us. His case is an example of “what goes around, comes around,” karma, eventually, it catches up to us all.

    Moreover, one of the commenters here — who seemingly acquired her job at town hall from the previous administration, falsified documents that violations I complained about did not exist. What is more corrupt than that?

    Corruption is corruption no matter who is committing it, and the law is the law, no matter who is breaking it. The problem is, the law is applied discriminatorily — especially in racist Morristown. Now some people will tell me to leave it if I don’t like it. When the American Indians tell me to, I will consider it. No one else has the right!

    While I am not a Tommy fan and I certainly do not condone animal abuse, to some extent, I empathize with his plight. I know what it like to be politically-targeted, publicly defamed and slowly lynched to be made an example of — and — with the help of black people pursuing grudges and looking for promotion. However, I have learned that we must carefully consider how we treat others, even when we are being told we must violate someone to keep our position or whatever, for man cannot manipulate divine law. In may move slowly for some, but it always manifest perfectly.

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