Monday, September 21, 2015

Letter to the Editor: "A Miscarriage of Justice by Dan Drew" by Brian E. Clark

Disclaimer: Below is a letter to the Editor by write-in mayoral candidate Brian E. Clark and published with explicit written consent from former Middletown police officer Francesca Quaranta. Litigation pertaining to claims made by Officer Quaranta expressed in the letter below are pending in court. As with all letters to the editor, the editors/owners/volunteer Middletown Insider staff publish these letters as a courtesy to our readers, and are not responsible for the validity of the claims or opinions made by the author of the letter. Views and opinions do not necessarily reflect that of the Insider staff. 

Write in Candidate for Mayor
& letter author
Brian E. Clark
"Letter to the Editor: A Miscarriage of Justice by Dan Drew"

Francesca Quaranta
It may surprise some that I have known Francesca Quaranta for over 17 years now. Then, in 1998, she was known by Frank, and she was an exemplary police officer for the Rocky Hill Police Dept., and I was her co-worker as an EMT on the Rocky Hill Ambulance, & for Aetna Ambulance Service. I protected her life then, and 17 years later, it brings me to tears to see that the City of Middletown has destroyed her life and career. This was brought to my attention as I am running for Mayor as a Write In Candidate, but after thoroughly investigating this case, I’m not sure me running for Mayor matters much anymore. When a life is destroyed, whether you had a front row seat to the event, or you catch the 48 Hours version, it makes you mad, and your priorities are reassessed. Francesca Quaranta was a Police Officer for the City of Middletown; laying down her life for us every second of the day she was here, and our Mayor, and our City was allowed to run roughshod over her life, on many occasions, and she was treated no different than a Nazi treated a Jew in a Concentration Camp in World War II.

Many know the story, or at least parts of it. Francesca Quaranta started her career here in Middletown as, Frank Quaranta in 2004, and again led an exemplary career for 10 years. The Mayor even says so! But when she decides to live the life the way she feels most comfortable, as a woman, well, it was obvious the “Old Boys Club” of the Middletown Police Department wasn’t having any of it, and therefore because it is the “Old Boys Club”, Dan Drew wants in on the “fun”. What follows is discrimination in the most clear cut case I have ever seen. Isn’t that illegal, you say? Yes, in fact it is. You see, in 2011, Dan Malloy signed HB 6599, making discrimination against transgender and gender expression, illegal. Say it ain’t so, Big Dan! Sorry Mini- Me (Dan Drew), yup, it’s a crime, and one that you conspired with Police Chief McKenna on down through the ranks, to break. When Chief McKenna says to Officer Quaranta that all the rules have to be changed because of you (Meaning Francesca), oh, we knew it was going to be a bumpy road from there. Francesca though, just wants to live her life, and goes out of her way to accommodate the other members of the Department, by removing herself from both locker rooms, and uses a private bathroom on the second floor. It goes so far, that Francesca is getting ready for work in the back parking lot, alone, in the dead of winter. She gets reprimanded on many occasions for trivial issues like hair and earrings, when other females are doing the same, and are left alone. Comments about what sexual acts she performs on other men are made by supervisors, and other officers, and derogatory statements are made by members of the Fire Department in public, and by a dispatcher. In a job where you have to absolutely trust the guy behind you, it obviously became  impossible to do her job safely.

She makes an official complaint with Faith Jackson, the Human Resources Director, who turns an investigation in to a carnival act, and in the end, not only does the decision say that no discrimination has been made, and the workplace isn’t hostile, but she says Francesca should be disciplined for even making the complaint in the first place! Francesca can’t stay here anymore, and who can blame her! On August 25, 2013 she is put on Administrative Leave with pay. She uses her time off to meet with her therapist, and try to make sense of what has happened, and heal. The Mayor doesn’t like this one bit, and on March 11, 2014, orders Francesca to take a Fitness for Duty Evaluation by Dr. Nancy Randall, a Doctor chosen by the City. Dr. Nancy Randall concludes, “It is essential in this position to feel the support of her fellow officers, which Officer Quaranta does not currently feel. The consequence of this could be disastrous in a critical situation, in which there is a need for immediate reactions and trust in fellow officers.” Obviously, Francesca does not pass the Fitness for Duty Evaluation. Diagnostic words like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Severe Depression, and Anxiety are just a few of the words contained in the report, and what does Dan Drew do? He moves her off Administrative Leave, and forces her to apply for Unemployment Compensation, which he challenges, and forces a hearing, which he loses. Miserably. Don’t worry, when it’s found out that Francesca’s diagnosis is a direct result from her employment with the City of Middletown, all of this becomes illegal. But, don’t worry. It does, and it is.

Dan Drew knows he’s screwed up bad. So he orders Francesca to take a second Fitness for Duty Exam, on Jun 2, 2014. Still being treated for her Mental Illness’s right along, she knows this is a joke, meant to be retaliatory, and humiliating. In a letter from her Attorney Josephine S. Miller, delivered that day to Brig Smith, General Counsel for the City, it says as much, and that now, Francesca will be going for her Disability Retirement Pension, which she certainly is entitled to under City Retirement Ordinance. Her own Therapist of 3 years concludes,  “I recommend she be retired with full disability pension since she will otherwise be placed in an intolerable environment that will not be conducive to performing the essential duties of police officer due to lack of cooperation and support of command staff and fellow officers.” Francesca knows now that she must retire with a disability.  But the shenanigans don’t stop here! No, on the June 27th, 2014, Dan Drew summons Francesca to his office, where he FIRES her! What’s his reasoning? He maintains to this day, that had she passed a Fitness for Duty Evaluation, she would have been allowed back immediately. But he knows from Dr. Randall’s report, that isn’t ever going to happen. Under some delusional, pat yourself on the ass, thinking, he thinks he can do all of this legally! Not so Dapper Dan!

Francesca, having the resolve of a Sherman Tank, moves on, and goes for her Disability Pension and the Retirement Board meets for the first time, on September 3rd, 2014. The Board members are all present, but someone has to tell me how Joe Serra can be on that committee as an impartial citizen member. Talk about conflict of interest! But the meeting goes on, and the decision is made that two independent medical (IME) reviews are to be conducted, and Hope Kasper motions to hold a Special Meeting when the results are obtained. I’m confused as to how Doctor Randall’s evaluation couldn’t be used, because she was indeed chosen by the City, and did come to the conclusion that Francesca could not work do to disabilities. Perhaps Dan Drew was wishing on a star each night in his footie pajamas that time, and more harassment would make her better. Anyway, Francesca agrees, and goes to her first IME on October 8th, 2014, by Dr. Morris D. Bell, of  Yale New Haven.

Dr. Bell concludes, “Francesca Quaranta is totally and permanently disabled as a police officer by her PTSD and depression. Her disability occurred during the performance of job related police duties and directly arose from performance of those duties. She was naive about the impact her transgender decision would have on her work life and had not the psychological resilience to withstand the consequences. Her defensiveness about her own contributions to the problem that followed and her sense of betrayal, physical endangerment, harassment and discrimination led to a catastrophic collapse from which she has not recovered.” He goes on to say that “For her this was a traumatic event. By analogy, a person with a predisposing vulnerability like a bad back might experience a blow that another person could withstand, but for that vulnerable individual it leads to permanent disability; so too with the profound and unexpected change in relationships at work for Francesca Quaranta.”
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If this wasn’t enough, she goes to the second IME, (really the 3rd) on October 22nd, 2014 with Dr. Jay Lasser of Farmington, CT. Dr. Lasser concludes “The employee, her therapist who clearly knows her and her situation very well and now I, are all of the opinion that her symptoms of the moment would not prevent her from performing as a police officer in a different setting, but this seems logistically impossible; and that she could never return to work as a Middletown police officer. “Therefore it is my opinion that the individual is totally and permanently disabled (specifically by PTSD) as a Middletown police officer (though not as a police officer in a different setting) and that such disability occurred during the performance of job¬ related police duties pertaining to employment with the city and arose out of and in the course of said employment with the city.”
That is now 3 Independent Medical Evaluations she has had. All of them are remarkably the same. And she has the evaluation from her therapist of 3 years, Joan P. Day LMFT, though Francesca and I agree that Ms. Day is not impartial. But not being impartial, doesn’t discount what Ms. Day has to say. She is a Medical Professional after all. On November 6th, 2014, a Special Meeting is called for the Retirement Board to meet. It was an Executive Session, so under State Law, no one will ever know what happened at that meeting, because the record is sealed. My account comes from the best source in the room: Francesca Quaranta. Dan Drew, Carl Erlacker, Sandra Russo- Driska, Hope Kasper, Christine Bourne, and Jim Reynolds were present. The issue came up to approve or deny Francesca’s Disability Pension, and the Mayor, strangely votes on this issue. I would think that a conflict of interest since he was the one who fired her to begin with. But I suppose we’re not concerned with ethics, standards, or laws here. He was never concerned at any time previous to this, why start now? The issue comes to a vote, and Christine Bourne and Sandra Russo- Driska vote to approve. Dan Drew, Carl Erlacker, and Jim Reynolds vote not to approve. And for some strange reason, Hope Kasper abstains. Feeling pangs for your career, Hope? We see how that worked out. It was over that quick. On November 6th, 2014 Lady Justice was murdered at City Hall, and no one cared.

This story has the basic facts that show how our Mayor, illegally fired, then denied a disability pension, to one of the finest Police Officer’s to ever serve the City of Middletown. What I have claimed here, I can prove with documents I obtained in the course of my investigation. They include Medical Reports and Records, letters, internal emails, photographs, and many hours of researching Francesca’s past quotes and articles. I began this to expose the truth. I finished having gained a life- long friend in Francesca, and while I have indeed, uncovered the truth, as a Citizen of Middletown, I’m saddened and disgusted with the way Francesca was treated by other Middletown Police Officers, Employees of the City of Middletown, and specifically, the Mayor, Dan Drew. Apparently there isn’t anything, including laws that will prevent Dan Drew from meeting his own agenda. 
I’m not under any illusions that I’ll be elected to the office of Mayor for this City. But I strongly urge you to consider Sandra Russo- Driska, because just on this issue alone, she was the voice of reason at these Retirement Board Meetings, though it did no good. She was obviously outranked, and out- numbered. But she was the light in the darkness, and this City is a dark place these days. We all could use a little light…

Brian E. Clark
Please check out and Write-In Brian E.Clark on November 3!

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