Lawsuit alleges Zisa extorted money from police officers for political campaigns; Bergen County freeholder also named

Hackensack Police Chief Ken Zisa has been accused of extorting money from police officers under his charge to finance his political campaigns, The Record reports.

A group of current and former Hackensack police officers filed a federal lawsuit against Zisa, a former assemblyman who ran an intra-party campaign against state Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) in 2005 and has continued to hold out hope of returning to the legislature. In 2007, he ran but aborted an assembly primary campaign against Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Englewood) and Gordon Johnson (D-Englewood). Early last year, he said he planned to run again, but the candidacy never came to fruition.

Also named as a defendant in the suit is Freeholder Tomas Padilla, who is an officer in the department and a hopeful for U.S. Marshall, along with the city of Hackensack, City Attorney Joseph Zisa (Ken Zisa’s cousin), and several other officials.

According to the paper, the six officers and one former officer who filed the suit alleged that Zisa used his position as head of the department – which he has held since 1995 — to influence his own races for assembly, state senate and sheriff. It also charges that he wielded his power to influence races for freeholder and union positions. Those that did not go along with Zisa’s “shakedowns,” they allege, were retaliated against through official channels like demotions, undesirable assignments, denial of promotions and even being brought up on disciplinary charges.

Click here to read the 55-page complaint (pdf).

Lawsuit alleges Zisa extorted money from police officers for political campaigns; Bergen County freeholder also named