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Former Pa. PD chief receives $2.5M settlement after alleging racial discrimination in his firing

Anthony “Chachi” Paparo claimed he was fired because he was white and that his reputation and job prospects were damaged by the publicity surrounding his termination


Anthony Paparo served as police chief of Yeadon, Pa., for four years until he was fired in February 2022 by the borough council. (Jessica Griffin/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)


By Vinny Vella
The Philadelphia Inquirer

PHILADELPHIA — A former Yeadon, Pa., police chief who contended that his firing in 2022 was racially motivated has settled a federal discrimination lawsuit against the borough and the officials who terminated him for $2.5 million, according to court filings obtained by The Philadelphia Inquirer on Tuesday.

Anthony “Chachi” Paparo said in the lawsuit that four members of the Yeadon Borough Council — former Borough Council President Sharon Council-Harris; then-Vice President Learin Johnson; and former council members Tomeka Jones-Waters and Carlette Brooks — conspired to replace him because he is white and nearly 90% of the town’s residents are Black. The group also damaged his personal and professional reputation, he said, by distributing “Fast Fact” flyers about his firing to every resident in the borough.

The case had been scheduled for a jury trial next week. But Paparo’s lawyer, Harold Goodman, said Tuesday that depositions from other borough officials who supported the former chief and said he was targeted because of his race helped lead to an early resolution.

“They saw that a trial very well could have resulted in an amount far greater than the settlement achieved,” Goodman said, “and at the cost of the residents of Yeadon being thrown into the public light throughout its course and the likelihood that the town itself could be made responsible.”

Goodman said he and his client were interested in a settlement amount that wouldn’t “jeopardize the financial security of the borough.”

Under the Feb. 29 settlement agreement, Yeadon agreed to pay Paparo $2.4 million in damages and an additional $100,000 in lost wages. In his lawsuit, Paparo contended that he was owed money for unused sick time when he was fired.

In an interview Tuesday, Paparo, 60, said he was pleased with the resolution of the case and eager to move on with his life.

“I can’t express my gratitude for their courage to come forward and do the right thing,” Paparo said of the officials who testified on his behalf. “This case has no reflection on the great residents of the town of Yeadon. Their integrity and honor is still intact.”

Paparo said he has struggled to find a new job in law enforcement since his firing — he said he applied to 150 positions, and has yet to receive an interview.

“My life was turned completely upside down. I spent 37 years of my life being a cop, and that’s all I know how to do,” Paparo said. “My reputation was destroyed, and I’m hoping I can get my life back together now.”

The officials named in the suit, three of whom no longer serve on the council, have denied Paparo’s assertion that his dismissal was about race. They said the decision to fire him stemmed from a $387,000 penalty the borough had to pay to the Fraternal Order of Police after Paparo improperly hired more part-time officers than the union contract allowed.

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, during the civil unrest that followed the death of George Floyd in 2020, the chief added 21 part-time officers to Yeadon’s force in contravention of the union contract. The FOP filed a grievance and won.

Paparo said he needed to supplement the borough’s police force amid staff shortages at a critical time. The borough officials balked at that explanation, saying he ignored multiple warnings from the FOP about the use of part-timers.

Robert DiDomenicis, the lawyer for the borough officials named as defendants in the lawsuit, declined to comment. The lawyer for the borough, Joseph Sanatore, did not return a request for comment.

In U.S. District Court filings, Sanatore said that although some of the council members “may have been motivated by race in their individual votes to terminate (Paparo),” other factors influenced their votes. He cited concerns about the FOP grievance, as well as a personal dispute between Paparo and one council member.

Paparo’s firing stirred upset in the Delaware County borough, which borders Southwest Philadelphia, sparking protests at council meetings in support of the former chief and an online petition to save his job that garnered more than 1,000 signatures.

Yeadon Mayor Rohan Hepkins was also a vocal supporter of Paparo’s, along with some members of the council. But at a Feb. 17, 2022, meeting, the motion to fire Paparo passed with a 4-3 vote, supported by the officials named in the lawsuit.

Paparo thanked Hepkins for that support, as well as former borough councilmembers LaToya Monroe, Liana Roadcloud and Nicole Beaty.

“I loved Yeadon, and from what you could see and everyone could see, they loved me,” he said. “And I never took that for granted. The support from them is what kept me going for these two years.”


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