NEWARK, N.J. — A former school superintendent who made headlines after he was charged with defecating on another high school’s track has asked New Jersey’s attorney general to investigate whether police acted unlawfully when they took his mug shot and released it to the media.
In a letter to Attorney General Gurbir Grewal on Monday, attorney Matthew Adams said the actions by the Holmdel Police Department were designed to “create a media spectacle” around the charges against Thomas Tramaglini.
Tramaglini was issued summonses in May after police alleged he repeatedly defecated on the Holmdel High School track. He eventually pleaded guilty to relieving himself in public on one occasion and paid a $500 fine. He resigned as superintendent of the Kenilworth school district.
Adams alleged that state law prevents police from taking and releasing mug shots of people charged with low-level offenses such as those faced by Tramaglini. According to his letter, a review of arrest reports provided by the township involving similar violations of municipal ordinances since 2007 revealed no instances in which mug shots were released.
“The malicious and unlawful conduct by one or more representatives of the Holmdel Township Police Department achieved exactly what was apparently intended, and Dr. Tramaglini has sustained significant harm,” Adams wrote.
Messages seeking comment were left with an attorney for the police department and the attorney general’s office. His attorney has said Tramaglini has a medical condition that affects his bowel movements when he runs.
Tramaglini has already filed a notice of intent to sue the police department for potential damages of more than $1 million due to loss of income, harm to his reputation, emotional distress and invasion of privacy.
The Tramaglini case received national exposure after details came to light and he became the subject of what Adams wrote was “reckless, inaccurate and sophomoric news stories.”