Barnegat police chief, accused of fudging comp time, gets $240,000 payout
BARNEGAT — An investigation into Barnegat Police Chief Arthur Drexler, under suspension since the summer of 2016, has come to an end — with a settlement leading to the chief's retirement.
Drexler's suspension in July, 2016 had been shrouded in mystery with no explanation offered by the township. The settlement, released by the township this week, shows the township had accused Drexler of "improperly (crediting) himself with compensatory time to which he was not contractually entitled."
It doesn't say what the township alleged was improper about how Drexler credited himself with compensatory time, or how much time he'd claimed.
Drexler, who had been chief since 2006, was put on an unpaid suspension by the township committee in August pending an investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.
That investigation in October concluded that "it does not appear that [there] is sufficient credible evidence to support the conclusion that Chief Drexler intentionally attempted to deceive the township of compensatory hours," and that the terms of Drexler's contract were unclear.
Drexler in December told the committee he intended to file suit on the grounds that his suspension was not justified. The township, meanwhile, disagreed with the prosecutor's finding and continued to pursue disciplinary action. Lawyers for both sides met in January and agreed to negotiate a settlement to avoid going to court.
"In the interests of avoiding the costs and uncertainty associated with litigation, Drexler and the township desire to resolve their dispute," the settlement states.
The township and Drexler reached an agreement that would formally reinstate him as chief, pay him retroactively to the Aug. 19 suspension and establish his retirement as Feb. 1. All charges would also be dropped against Drexler, and his suspension is void and all records expunged of the suspension.
As part of the settlemen:
- Drexler will be paid $240,000 in retroactive pay and legal fees, which breaks down to $97,036.55 in back pay and $142,963.45 to his lawyers.
- Contributions of $19,045.24 per month for February of 2016 through January of 2017 will be made to his pension.
- He will also be given retiree police credentials and be permitted to carry a handgun.
- Personal effects from his office will be returned
According to the agreement, Drexler had worked for the township for 31 years.
Before the agreement was released, Barnegat Township Attorney Jerry Dasti said there is no language inside the agreement that would prevent Drexler from pursuing a public sector job in the future.
"It doesn't stop him from looking for another position," Dasti said.
Tom Mongelli and Vin Ebenau contributed to this report.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
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