Round 2

Mayoral critics file multimillion dollar counterclaim against city

A group of critics who were arrested in December for distributing allegedly defamatory flyers against Mayor Brian Stack have filed a counterclaim in civil court.
Days after the six critics were arrested, Mayor Brian Stack filed a civil complaint against them because the flyers bore his signature and photo. Stack is seeking an unspecified amount of damages. But on Jan. 13, the critics filed a counterclaim against Stack, Chief of Police Charles Everett, Director of Public Works Philip Iacovelli, the Police Department, and the city as a whole.
Each defendant is requesting “no less than $1,000,000” for what they say were lost wages, humiliation, mental and emotional distress, attorneys’ fees, and other damages due to their arrest and the subsequent controversy.


The counterclaim filed by the defendants alleges 19 counts against Stack, Everett, Iacovelli, and others.

Stack’s complaint against the five men and one woman alleged defamation, fraud, injury to reputation, and invasion of privacy. It also asked for an injunction to stop the defendants from distributing the materials or anything similar, and requested an unspecified monetary amount of compensatory and punitive damages.
A consent order filed a week later forbade the six defendants from distributing communications “purporting to be authored, signed by, approved by or endorsed in any way by Plaintiff, Mayor Brian P. Stack.”
Mayor Stack, who is also Union City commissioner of public safety, has previously said the flyers were forgery. They purported to be apology letters from the mayor for alleged misdeeds.
Frank Scarafile, one of the Union City residents arrested and named in the complaint by Stack, is a former Union City school principal who ran against Stack in 2006 and has been outspoken in his opposition to the mayor. Stack is up for re-election this May, and Scarafile has said he has not ruled out a run.
Scarafile is currently superintendent of schools in Little Ferry, N.J. His mugshot and the others appeared in local newspapers, including this one, after he was arrested.
“The more you look at it, [the arrest] looks like political retaliation,” said Scarafile. “I don’t think there’s anything more to it.”
The counterclaim filed by the defendants alleges 19 counts against Stack, Everett, Iacovelli, and others involved including malicious prosecution, false arrest, false imprisonment, invasion of privacy, theft, assault, fraud, and conspiracy.
Stack’s lawyer, Juan Fernandez, confirmed details of the case last week but declined to comment on the counterclaim. As of press time, Stack did not return calls for comment.

The events

On Dec. 4, 2009 Scarafile was allegedly handing out bilingual flyers that resembled official correspondence from Stack in a bank parking lot. Others who were allegedly helping were Emilio Lopez of West New York and Union City residents Justo Delgado, Armando J. Hernandez, Carlos Lopez, and Joamelly Artaega.
The six were arrested by Union City Police that evening and charged with forgery, falsifying records, harassment, and violation of the city’s ordinance against distribution of flyers. After their arrests, they were reportedly held for six hours as they were processed and issued summonses.

Criminal charges

While the case is being hashed out in civil court, criminal charges are still pending as well.
Hudson County Prosecutor Edward De Fazio said last week that the matter is undergoing further investigation. As part of their examination, the County Prosecutor’s Office has also been in touch with the Attorney General’s Office for additional legal opinion.
“There’s some legal analysis required,” said De Fazio. “It’s complex; the forgery charge is clearly not a simple issue.”
De Fazio added that he is aware of the concurrent civil case and is interested in the status of that action as well.
“They’re two separate and distinct tracks,” said De Fazio. “However, there could be a ruling in the civil case that would have to be considered in the context of our case as well.”
While the civil case could take up to approximately a year to be resolved, the prosecutor is hoping to have the criminal case wrapped up in as timely a manner as possible.
Meanwhile, Stack kicked off his campaign for re-election earlier this month. Scarafile has said there will be an opposition ticket regardless of whether he himself runs.
Lana Rose Diaz can be reached at

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