Scheeler: Tilton's Involvement in Galloway Township News Website Boosted Settlement
Former Publisher Harry Scheeler claims she was involved from the beginning. Stories posted on that website transformed what would have been a $50,000 settlement into a $250,000 settlement, he claims.
Lisa Tilton has always been involved in the publication of Galloway Township News, former publisher Harry Scheeler stated in an email issued Wednesday night, March 6, and he states her involvement may have made a difference of $200,000 in her lawsuit settlement with the township.
In an email addressed to current and former members of council, Township Solcitor Michael Fitzgerald, Township Manager Arch Liston, Police Chief Patrick Moran, former Solicitor Michael Blee, Township Clerk Thalia C. Kay and members of the media Thursday night, Scheeler stated that Tilton has been involved with the website since its inception, and that the majority of the content was written by her.
"To the best of my recollection all but one post about Lisa Tilton was written by Lisa Tilton or she provided all information which included the color copy of her discipline record," Scheeler wrote in the email. "Tilton also later admitted some of the anonymous information received by email was sent by her and former Mayor Keith Hartman."
He went on to state that Tilton filed 95 percent of the Open Public Meetings Act (OPRA) requests with the township, filed complaints with the Government Records Council (GRC) in the name of Galloway Township News, and was communicating with employees in the township as to the step-by-step process the township was engaged in while handling her lawsuit. That information was used to generate stories on the site, and ultimately led to the township settling for $250,000, rather than an alleged initial offer by the township of $50,000, Scheeler said.
The full text of that email can be found by clicking here.
Scheeler referenced two emails he sent to Tilton's Attorney Steven Srenaski, which Srenaski claimed he never received due to a technical error. He said he discovered the emails in a spam folder Thursday morning.
The emails stem from an OPRA request filed by Galloway Patch concerning emails exchanged between Scheeler and Police Chief Patrick Moran. Scheeler accused Tilton of being involved in the filing of that OPRA request. Tilton responded and Scheeler stated he "was done with Galloway."
He then contacted Srenaski and asked to have Tilton stop contacting him. Those emails were provided to Galloway Patch by Scheeler Wednesday night.
In the emails obtained by Galloway Patch via that request, Scheeler and Moran discuss the lawsuit filed by police officer Brian Tennant.
Scheeler left a comment concerning the lawsuit on a story published by Patch, and Moran contacted him via email to reaffirm his position that he will continue to pursue the issue in court so that the whole story can come out.
Scheeler referenced Tilton’s lawsuit against the township in which she accused former Manager Steve Bonanni of sexual harassment, and claimed there was a conspiracy between Bonanni and former Councilman Dennis Kleiner to have her removed from her position as township clerk. That suit was settled for $250,000. Part of the suit, involving Blee, is ongoing, according to Tilton.
“I have from day one told the truth about every detail of what had transpired with regards to Lisa Tilton,” former Councilman Dennis Kleiner wrote in an email Wednesday night. “ … I sincerely hope that this is the end of it once and for all, but whether you like me or not know one thing, I'm no liar. I speak my mind, and I did my best to do the job I was elected to do.”
Tilton had no comment. Tilton's Attorney Steven Srenaski stated that due to a technical error, he didn't immediately receive the emails when Scheeler said he sent them, but discovered them in his spam folder Thursday morning. Beyond that, he had no comment.
"I've never had anything to do with Galloway Township News other than as a reader and a couple articles," Hartman said. "I wrote opinion letters at the request of Mr. Scheeler."
Mayor Don Purdy had no comment Thursday morning. Township Manager Arch Liston and Solicitor Michael Fitzgerald didn't return messages seeking comment Thursday morning.
Galloway Township Police Lt. Chris Doyle was unable to comment Thursday morning. Doyle is the Acting Police Chief.
Scheeler launched Galloway Township News in 2011, and the first story detailed the township’s release of Tilton’s private information to a third party not involved in the case.
On Thursday night, Scheeler revealed that story was written by him, but heavily influenced by Tilton.
Other stories were written by Tilton, Scheeler said, and the “News Desk” byline was used because Scheeler didn’t want to mislead anyone reading the site. It’s also why he would often state “Galloway Township News has learned” as opposed to “Harry Scheeler has learned.”
Over time, Galloway Township News uncovered a lot of corruption in Galloway government. Most of that corruption was uncovered by Tilton, according to Scheeler. He said she knew exactly what documents to search for.
Other issues, such as former Manager Steve Bonanni’s alleged engagement in illegal activities on township time, were uncovered by Scheeler. Scheeler also stated terrylucarelli.com, which focuses on former Galloway Township Republican League Municipal Chairperson Terry Luccarrelli, was his idea and entirely run by him.
Scheeler finally sold the website to Tilton after he received an email from an anonymous employee, stating that a network of Galloway employees conspired to lie to him about supposed conduct unbecoming township officials.
This included the forging of documents, the source told Scheeler. He subsequently sold the website to Tilton for an undisclosed amount of money, and Tilton began operation of the site for a certain period of time before revealing she was the new publisher.
Scheeler finally said he had enough of the lies, and decided to come clean to the police department Wednesday night.