MORRISTOWN, N.J. (PIX11) -- A New Jersey man is out thousands of dollars and filing a federal lawsuit to fight tickets he received after he alerted a police officer to an erratic driver.
Three years ago, Jerry Gregor said he pulled up next to a police officer and tried to tell him about a dangerous driver who’d nearly caused a crash. The officer, who was talking on his cellphone, told Gregor he did not see the near-crash -- and that’s when it became ugly.
“I said, well, maybe, officer, if you weren’t on your phone, you would have seen it happen,” Gregor recalled. “And he said pull over.”
PIX11 News reached out to the town of Morristown for comment, but had not heard back by the time of publication.
Gregor was slapped with two $50 tickets for obstructing traffic. But Gregor suspects the violations were more for “retaliation.”
“I wasn’t breaking the law until I made that comment,” Gregor said. “All of a sudden, I’m breaking all the laws.”
Initially, Gregor asked Officer Christopher Ravallese to call his supervisor to the scene.
“He appeared to be losing his emotional control. He’s upset. I fear for my safety -- he’s got a gun,” Gregor said. “I have three kids and I ask, can you please call your supervisor to the scene?”
Gregor said the supervisor agreed with him, but said the tickets would have to be fought in court and urged him to file a complaint against the officer. Now three years and $2,000 later, Gregor has faced two trials and and appeal, an internal affairs investigation, and now a federal lawsuit.
But it’s the twisted journey that really gets him. He said he reached out to the town’s mayor about it and was asked to keep it quiet.
At trial, the town prosecutor was willing to toss the ticket but the officer wasn’t on board -- after four times of being asked to drop the violations.
The prosecutor “comes back to me and says, wow, he really has it in for you,” Gregor said.
The Internal Affairs investigation conducted by the Morristown Police Department found the officer did nothing wrong. It was at his second trial that Gregor said the shenanigans began.
When Gregor brought the transcript of the officer’s prior testimony about the traffic stop to the prosecutor, she said he couldn’t use it. Gregor paid some $2,000 to print out those documents.
“She takes it out of my hands and gives it to the officer for him to start reading it,” Gregor said.
Gregor said now the officer testified to a different version of the exchange.
He was “saying I pulled over fairly quickly the first time and then I refused to pull over and used obscenities. I don’t use obscenities,” Gregor said.
That same ticketing officer, Christopher Ravallese, who has since returned to the Paterson Police Department, has a history. Paterson has paid out $107,000 to settle a suit for police brutality that Ravalese was a part of.
Eventually, on appeal, one of Gregor’s tickets was dismissed but the other one is still active -- and Gregor is fighting on, now filing a federal suit allegedly civil rights first amendment malicious prosecution.
“This is about our community and how many times you go to the municipality and get a raw deal,” Gregor said. “A very raw deal.”
Legal sources said it may cost more than $25,000 to defend this sticky ticket now that it’s gone to the federal level. The attorney general’s office has expressed interest in Gregor’s story. Settlement talks are ongoing.