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Judge denies Newton employee’s bid to expand lawsuit

A federal judge last week denied an attempt by a Newton Police Department secretary who is suing the city to add Mayor Setti Warren as a separate defendant in the civil complaint.

“Obviously, we’re pleased, and it’s what we were anticipating,” said City Solicitor Donnalyn B. Lynch Kahn. “We did not think that those additional claims were meritorious.”

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Jeanne Sweeney Mooney filed the federal civil rights lawsuit in March against the city, Warren in his official capacity as mayor, the Police Department’s former chief Matthew Cummings, and two former department employees, alleging that she was set up on theft charges after complaining about Cummings.

She was placed on paid administrative leave in September 2011 after being accused of stealing office funds, and was acquitted by a jury in May.

Last month, her lawyer, John F. Tocci, filed a motion to add Warren personally, alleging that he was involved in a conspiracy to bring false criminal charges against Mooney.

The motion also sought to bring an abuse of process charge against Warren, Cummings, who was fired last fall, and Lieutenant Edward Aucoin, who is now retired. The request was also denied.

Kahn represents the city, Warren, and Aucoin; Cummings and the other former department employee named in the suit, Vincent Nguyen, have separate lawyers.

The former chief’s lawyer, Timothy M. Burke, said he was pleased by Wednesday’s ruling as it related to his client.

“Obviously it was the right decision,” said Burke. “Obviously, we didn’t believe the motion had any merit, and obviously the court agreed.”

The ruling by US District Judge Rya W. Zobel does not explain why the motions filed by Tocci were denied.

“I’d certainly love to know what law the judge premised her decision on,” said Tocci. “We obviously believe it’s wrong, but what are you going to do? Judges are sometimes wrong; they’re only human.”

In her lawsuit, Mooney contends that she was set up after she began complaining about Cummings in 2010. Warren fired Cummings in October for “conduct unbecoming,’’ after an investigation into her allegations found, among other things, that he had kicked Mooney’s foot and swore at her.

Mooney, who has been offered her job back by the city, remains on sick leave, according to Kahn and Tocci.

Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @evanmallen.
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