New Jersey, Former State Trooper Settle Harassment Lawsuit
TRENTON, N.J. - October 2, 2007 (WPVI) -- The state of New Jersey is paying a 400-thousand dollar settlement to a former state trooper.
He claimed that he was being harassed by a secret group of rogue officers known as the "Lords of Discipline."
In his lawsuit former trooper Justin Hopson claimed that after he refused to back up other troopers' version of what he thought was an improper arrest in 2002, he became the target of a loosely organized, secret group in the state police known as the Lords of Discipline. "I was victimized through physical assaults, my car was vandalized and threatening notes were left around the state police barracks," Hopson said.
Now the state has announced that it will pay Hopson, who is no longer a trooper, a $400,000 settlement.
"The state doesn't engage in substantial settlements unless they know they have a problem," said Hopson's attorney, William Buckman.
Hopson was one of several troopers to file suit saying they were victimized by the Lords of Discipline, which has targeted women, minorities and those they felt didn't cut it. Another was Trooper John Oliva of Absecon. The group left a harassing note for him. Oliva committed suicide in 2003 and his case is still pending.
State police declined comment and a spokesman for the Attorney General's office would only say the settlement is fair and reasonable.
In 2005 state police reprimanded or suspended seven troopers for harassing colleagues, but an investigation by the attorney general's office concluded the Lords of Discipline, or LOD, does not exist. Hopson and his lawyer dispute that conclusion.
"They are underground now, but given the history of the state police and the long life of the LOD, I suspect they will pop up sometime within the next couple years to harass others," said Buckman.
(Copyright 2007 by Action News and 6abc. All Rights Reserved.)
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