BOUND BROOK - The seven-year saga involving the borough's suspended police chief is coming to an end for the borough. But for now it continues for Kenneth Henderson, who still has corruption charges hanging over his head.
Henderson and the Borough Council this week approved a $150,000 settlement agreement in which Henderson, who has been suspended without pay since 2004, would resign and retire in good standing, without admitting to any criminal wrongdoing.
Officials said the agreement was prompted by the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office informing the borough attorney that it intended to drop the controversial case, which has already seen some of the charges against Henderson dropped and all charges against his former co-defendant dismissed in trial.
The Prosecutor's Office, however, on Thursday would neither confirm nor deny that claim. The criminal charges against Henderson still are pending; the case still is on the court docket.
Nevertheless, Bound Brook attorney Louis Rainone, of the Teaneck firm DeCotiis, FitzPatrick and Cole, insisted Thursday that he was contacted by the Prosecutor's Office and told prosecutors had discussed dismissing the indictment.
The settlement - which allows Henderson seven days to change his mind - takes Bound Brook off the hook from having to pay Henderson back pay if he were to be cleared of wrongdoing.
Henderson's salary was $92,750 in 2004, the year he was suspended. His salary would have been $100,318 in 2006, according to the settlement agreement.
Henderson also agreed to not contest the administrative charge filed by the borough of conduct unbecoming a police officer. Borough officials said litigating that charge could have cost taxpayers $200,000.
The scandal began in 2004 when Henderson was accused of tipping off restaurant owner Rafael Rosario to a raid by state agents coming to investigate liquor-law violations.
Café Imperial was frequented by local officials. Mayor Carey Pilato, a councilman at the time, was present at the club with other officials on the night of the raid. Pilato, claiming he is witness for the prosecution, has recused himself from votes and discussion regarding Henderson.
The council suspended Henderson days after his arrest on obstructing justice charges. A year later he was indicted on 17 counts. Of those, a judge later dropped four counts relating to allegations he double-dipped and illegally received overtime payments after Hurricane Floyd in 1999.
Criminal charges against Rosario were dismissed in May. Superior Court Judge Robert Reed cited a lack of evidence "of any conspiracy on Rosario's part to participate in Henderson's alleged crime."
Separate charges that Rosario failed to pay $95,000 in state sales taxes were dismissed at trial last year.
Henderson's defense team has alleged the case resulted from retaliation by former Somerset County Prosecutor Wayne Forrest and former borough officials.
The $150,000 settlement, which represents salary for 18 months
and 19 days, gives Henderson the necessary 25 years of employment
needed to collect full
state pension benefits.
"This means we can turn the page on an ugly chapter," Council President Tony Pranzatelli said Thursday. The borough council unanimously approved the settlement Tuesday.
The attorney for Henderson did not return a call for comment and Henderson could not be reached for comment.
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