Friday, May 13, 2011 04:37 pm
By MICHAEL FEELY
A lawsuit was filed March 31 in Atlantic County Superior Court against the City of Brigantine, former Police Chief James Frugoli¸ City Manager Jim Barber, Brigantine Auto Body, Wayne McLean, Guenther and Sons Towing and others.
The lawsuit, filed by Cherry Hill attorney Paul Melletz on behalf of former Brigantine Gulf owner Fred Ray and his son Michael, alleges that Frugoli conspired with others to prevent Ray’s firm from being placed on the city’s towing list for years, refused to allow him to tow cars to his own lot once he was on the list, and that the city still owes him three-and-a-half years of towing fees.
Fred’s Brigantine Gulf began business on July 30, 2002 as a gas station and towing business. Ray contacted Frugoli and Barber to apply to be placed on the towing list for the City of Brigantine, according to the suit. At that time, Guenther and Sons (no relation to the mayor) from Pleasantville was the only company permitted to tow vehicles in the city.
The lawsuit states that Fred’s Brigantine Gulf was finally put on the towing list in 2005. The lawsuit lists other issues that allege discrimination on the city’s part: i.e., mercantile license issues, fencing issues and non-payment “for the last six months of 2006, all of 2007, 2008 and 2009 for fees for towing red tag cars and is owed that money by the City of Brigantine.”
Ray, when contacted, referred questions to his attorney, Melletz, who said that Ray feels “this is a personal issue between he and Frugoli.”
The complaint claims that Frugoli “personally prevented plaintiff Fred’s Brigantine Gulf from getting on the towing list on ‘his island’.”
Melletz was quoted in the Press of Atlantic City as saying, “My clients contend that the (former) chief of police had indicated to my clients and to other people that this was ‘his island’.”
The lawsuit states that the city, through the directions of Frugoli and Barber, was largely responsible for his auto shop going out of business.
Attempts to contact Frugoli went unanswered, and Barber, through the deputy city manager, declined to comment because the issue is in litigation.
The lawsuit is listed as docket number L-2560-11 as a civil action and can be viewed online atwww.judiciary.state.nj.us.