The attorney for a high ranking New Haven firefighter says he plans to sue his colleagues, including Fire Chief John Alston.
Assistant Fire Chief Orlando Marcano accuses members of the department of actively working to ruin his reputation and prevent him from being considered for future promotions.
Several members of the New Haven Fire Department have been slapped with a lawsuit by one of their own. The suit alleges that four members of the department actively sought to ruin the reputation of Assistant Fire Chief Orlando Marcano.
The 21-page complaint centers on the hierarchy within the department and names another assistant fire chief, a former administrative assistant, and the union president as defendants in the suit.
According to the complaint, Orlando “Woody” Marcano is seeking both compensatory and punitive damages above $15,000 from several of his current coworkers and one former city employee.
In 2017, Marcano was sworn in as the assistant chief of administration, the number two person in the chain of command, according to the complaint. At the time, the complaint alleges that Assistant Chief of Operation Mark Vendetto, number three in charge for the New Haven fire department, accused Marcano of cheating his way to the top and proceeded to make him appear incompetent and unworthy of future promotions by spreading false accusations.
According to the complaint, Vendetto, made statements at union meetings that the two were equal in rank, even though Vendetto’s position was considered lower than Marcano’s. Vendetto has not responded to our request for comment.
Union President Frank Ricci is also named in the complaint for making the same allegations and allegedly threatening to get Marcano fired. The lawsuit lists nine grievances Ricci filed against Marcano including the mishandling of personnel matters and money, all of which Marcano says are false and were made up to make him look bad.
In a statement Ricci said, “This is an attack on the rights of all New Haven firefighters. This is a frivolous lawsuit that is in retaliation for representing my membership and exposing the truth in that endeavor. We will defend this action vigorously and are confident that we will be vindicated.”
Marcano is also suing his boss, Chief John Alston, for negligent supervision, saying he did not taking action against Vendetto and Ricci and allowed them to undermine and interfere with his job. Alston said it’s premature to comment on the suit.
“The allegations set forth a pattern of activity over a long period of time that was leveled against Orlando Marcano that we have alleged wrongfully interfered with his employment relationship with the City of New Haven, so as to embarrass Assistant Chief Marcano, make him appear incompetent, ineffective, and undesirable for promotion so that others would be promoted over him. We intend to pursue these allegations fully in a Court of competent jurisdiction against all defendants who have been sued in an individual capacity,” said Marcano’s attorney, Patricia Cofrancesco, in a statement.
Cofrancesco pointed out that the defendants are being sued as individuals and not in their official capacity as New Haven employees. She said that means they won’t have city attorneys to defend them, and they’ll have to pay for any damages awarded out of their own pockets and not with taxpayer dollars or union dues.
As the number two and three in command, Marcano and Vendetto could expect to be promoted to chief in the future. The chief serves at the discretion of the mayor. Current mayor Toni Harp lost last week’s primary and has not said whether she plans to run in November.