Settlement Reached with Bristol Cop, Total Cost Of Cases: Over $825K

Bristol Borough Municipal Building.  Credit: Jeff Bohen/LevittownNow.

Bristol Borough Municipal Building.
Credit: Jeff Bohen/LevittownNow.

Bristol Borough and borough police officer Ritchie Webb settled a federal suit in which the officer of 14 years claimed he was repeatedly harassed by officials and representatives of the police department.

Richie Webb Sr., the patrolman’s father, confirmed for late Wednesday night that his son received a settlement of $440,00o as a result of the agreement.

The original claim filed in January 2012 alleged  that officer Webb was jeopardized and tormented because of  his testimony about then-Bristol Officer Sam Anders0n. Anderson responded to a domestic call in August of 2008 in which he told Patrolman Webb of a sexual encounter he had with Joanne Cipressi.

Anderson  later resigned from the police department and was  subsequently jailed on the charge of “official suppression” – using his authority as a police officer in return for a sex act – serving three months, court documents show.

Cipressi filed a suit against the borough and as a result of her attorney’s request to depose officer Webb because he was on duty that day he was scheduled to be deposed by Cipressi’s attorney.

According to Webb’s suit, he was pressured and ostracized  because he testified that  Anderson told him about the inappropriate sexual encounter with Cipressi. Moreover, Webb claimed he was threatened with being fired, calls for backup while on duty were ignored and supervisors wrongly accused him of threatening to shoot a citizen in which he was then suspended for 11 weeks.

Cipressi settled her federal lawsuit against the borough in July for $385,000.

Webb Sr. “angered by the public statements made to the press” by  Frank Lavery Jr.,the  attorney representing the borough, said, “I felt compelled to respond to Lavery because he left significant details of the settlement unclear” when talking to a reporter for another media outlet.

“It is true that all the defendants in the case were dismissed but only after the insurance company agreed to pay my son and his attorney $440,000.  The elder Webb continued, “unlike the Bristol Borough officials, I will gladly release all of the specifics, including all transcripts with details from sworn statements taken at deposition verifying my words.”

Lavery contacted at his office was unavailable for an interview. He later sent a statement to that he said was distributed to media outlets earlier this week.

“The Borough and all of the individual defendants in this case strongly wanted to defend this matter through the court system to conclusion. However the borough’s insurer decided to settle the matter to avoid further litigation costs and expenses” the statement from the borough attorney said.

Official and legal sources in early August told that two meetings took place in Bristol Borough with the litigants named in the suit. Police Chief Arnold Porter; Mayor Robert Lebo; Council President Ralph DiGuiseppe Jr.; Police  Sgt Joe Moors; Detective Randy Morris; officers Marie Robles, Dean Johnson, James Ellis, and Charles Palmer. Christopher Gerber and the Chester Springs law firm where Gerber is employed were also named.

Not included in those meetings was Lebo, who was “stunned and shocked” when told of the meetings and further dismayed that he wasn’t included since he was named in the suit.

“H0w do you not invite a named defendant in a federal lawsuit, namely the mayor who oversees the police department? Just how do you do that?” he asked.

“All of the defendants strongly denied any liability to the plaintiff and none was admitted by virtue of the settlement …that borough council … believes it acted in the best financial interest of  of the taxpayers in allowing the insurer to settle this matter,” Lavery said.

Webb Sr. said that all his son wanted was a letter “improperly placed” in his personnel file “without merit” be excised.

“Had they done that,” he said, “Richie would have never filed a lawsuit and the taxpayers of the borough wouldn’t have to bear what he estimates to be over a “one million dollar burden in suits and attorney fees.”

So far, the cases have cost the borough $825,000 in settlements alone. Numbers for the borough’s expenses spent on lawyers were not available to as of press time.

One borough official, who asked not to be identified, said, “now that the civil part is over, the question that has to be asked is if these allegations in the suit are indeed true. When is there going to be criminal charges filed? You can’t leave a cop on the street and hang him out to dry.”

Webb’s Jr’s attorney, Lou Hornstine, was unavailable for comment Thursday.

Editors note: The comments from Richie Webb Sr came as a result of an interview conducted and an editorial statement Webb provided to The full editorial will run on the site at 7 p.m.

Jeff was born and raised on the streets of Brooklyn, New York. He is an avid New York sports fan who studied and worked in the Mental Health system of four different states. Jeff came to journalism late in life initially desiring to be a sports broadcaster. Mentors at Temple University Dept of Journalism pointed Jeff towards broadcasting and covering news which he's been doing since 2009. Jeff loves heavy metal, signs and is the best air guitarist he knows. Jeff spends his free time stalking out stories throughout the nooks and crannies of Lower Bucks.