Shelton’s top cop in federal court soon
  Register Staff, Register Staff    September 23, 2000

SHELTON — A lawsuit filed by the Shelton police union against Police Chief Robert Voccola is scheduled to start in federal court Wednesday.

The union filed the lawsuit in May after union President Mi-chael Lewis was suspended for five days.  Voccola said Lewis violated department rules by releasing information to the media about internal police investigations. 

The lawsuit is expected to start at 10 a.m. in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport. 

Lewis said he is seeking an undermined amount of punitive damages and back pay.  Lewis also wants to have the suspen-sion removed from his person-nel record. 

Voccola said he hopes the city prevails.  "I’m sure there are two different views and the judge will do the right thing and make the proper decision," he said. 

Lewis was suspended without pay in late April after Voccola claimed that Lewis had released privileged information about Voccola’s son, who was the subject of an internal affairs investigation. 

Lewis said that he acknowl-edged to the press that Voc-cola’s son, also named Robert, was the subject of an investiga-tion over his qualifications.  The younger Voccola has since re-signed his position as a patrolman. 

The union and Lewis have been at odds with Voccola since the chief was hired last year.  In March the union released a secretly recorded audiotape of Voccola making racially insen-sitive comments. 

Voccola was forced to apolo-gize in public for his remarks, and a letter of reprimand was placed in his file.  He was also ordered by Mayor Mark Lauretti to undergo sensitivity training. 

The union also said it lacked confidence in Voccola’s ability to run the department and was critical of the chief when his son was hired.