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Cops, Courts & Fire -Bristol Borough

Exclusive: Borough to Approve Lawsuit Settlements with Former Police Officer, who claimed Harassment, ADA Violations, Wrongful Termination



Bristol Borough settled two lawsuits with a former police officer who filed claims in federal and county courts claiming work place harassment and discrimination, professional humiliation and embarrassment.

Council President Ralph Ralph DiGuiseppe confirmed to Lower Bucks Source the decision to settle the legal actions was made Friday, however, he said he didn’t have the settlement number specifics.

Our insurance company recommended we settle the cases, DiGuiseppe added.

“We’ll be going over the details in the executive session before tomorrow nights council meeting,” he said.

Borough Manager James Dillon and former Chief of Police Steve Henry, were scheduled to be deposed late last month. A Special Settlement Master was appointed due to deadlocked talks, according to federal court records, in August.

Council is expected to approve the settlements, and will vote on a resolution tonight, according to the meeting agenda published Sunday.

Gross sued the police department, borough, Mayor Joseph Saxton, then Chief of Police Steve Henry and Borough Manager James Dillon for wrongful termination and retaliation asking for damages in excess of $50,000, according to court documents filed in 2020 in a civil county claim.

Gross was injured on the job in March of 2014 when a Bristol woman, Stephanie McCleary, rammed his marked police cruiser several times as he was attempting to stop her from getting on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, causing a number of injuries to his back, neck, and traumatizing him court records show.

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Gross suffered “traumatic injuries” including but not limited to: a traumatic brain injury, major depression, post traumatic stress disorder, disc herniation, lumbar disc protrusion, caused by the vehicular assault, the suit says.

The Police Cruiser officer Gross was driving when slammed by Stephanie McCleary in 2014

Gross suffered “traumatic injuries” including but not limited to: a traumatic brain injury, major depression, post traumatic stress disorder, disc herniation, lumbar disc protrusion, caused by the vehicular assault, the suit says.

Gross returned to work in 2017  according to court documents and alleged work place hostility from borough officials and supervisory officers.

After returning back to the job, assigned to desk duty Gross says he suffered “severe and pervasive disability discrimination, harassment and retaliation,…during the course and scope of his employment with BBPD.”

Gross’ physician determined he was unable to return to work due to his post-traumatic stress disorder and depression in January of 2019.

Weinberg wrote in legal filings, Gross was targeted, intimidated and harassed, by the borough and its police officials when fully aware that he was suffering from medical and mental health disabilities, and used that information in deciding to terminate the former officer.

Gross was seeking at least $150,00.00 in damages, back pay, front pay, equitable and injunctive relief, plus costs and expenses in the federal lawsuit.

Gross served as a Bristol Police officer for approximately seven years, borough records show. He currently resides in the Bensalem area, with his wife and children.

Requests for comment were yet to be responded to by Gross’ attorneys- Lou Hornstine and Marc Weinberg. Additionally comment requests were also sent to Dillon and Chris Gerber of SIANA Law

Credit: Submitted


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Cops, Courts & Fire -Bensalem Township

Bensalem Twp Council To Vote On Volunteer Fire Company Consolidation Monday Night



Just under two years ago at a Bristol Borough Council meeting, officials were getting an update on the then planned fire company consolidation effort by Steve Reeves,  president of the Bristol Borough Fire Association. At the time, talk of consolidating fire companies in the borough and Bristol Township was a hot topic.

During his presentation Reeves mentioned consolidation talks of the Bensalem fire company volunteer services were also in progress. At the time tidbit was not in the public domain.

Credit: Submitted

Now after two years of planning, the Bensalem Township Council will vote on a resolution to form The Bensalem Volunteer Fire Department at its next meeting Monday night.

If the resolution is passed, the six legacy fire companies, including Cornwells, Eddington, Newport, Nottingham, Trevose, and Union, will be consolidated into one volunteer fire department. This consolidation plan is necessary to ensure adequate fire/emergency response within the township because of reduced membership amongst the current companies, a press release announced late Friday afternoon.

Credit: Submitted

Reeves knew what he was talking about at the time. Lower Bucks Source in the following days reached out to area first responder sources, officials and Bensalem area volunteer firefighters. No one anywhere would go on or off the record. LBS was directed, by Battalion Chief/Fire Marshal Robert Sponheimer, to the Deputy Director of Public Safety Robert Race who politely declined to respond to a request for comment at the time.

Credit: Submitted

Late last year, according to a Lower Bucks Times report, Bensalem officials spoke rather openly about dwindling volunteer numbers.  This led William McVey, director of public safety, to ask for council approval to apply for a SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) grant through FEMA, which was subsequently approved in November by council.

This past February the township announced the hiring of Mark Antozzeski as the first career Fire Chief in Bensalem history. He is leading the volunteer fire services, as well as Bensalem Fire Rescue, career staff. McVey told Bensalem the hiring was an important piece of the consolidation process.


Credit: Submitted

Earlier this month,  Nottingham Fire Department Chief Ron Harris was named the Bensalem Volunteer Fire Department Deputy Chief as part of the consolidation effort, according to published report. 

Credit: Submitted

Beginning Friday evening, shortly after receiving the Bensalem announcement on the expected consolidation vote, first responder sources Lower Bucks Source contacted said that back in 2022 when first contacted they declined to comment because the topic was sensitive in nature and a real possibility of backlash existed and concerns about “sabotaging” the process were also omnipresent. Those sources again declined to comment on the record.

Consolidation Efforts in Bristol Borough & Bristol Township

In February, Bristol Borough voted to consolidate their volunteer fire services. Prior to that step the borough approved applying for a Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program Grant in the amount of $1.5 to build a new fire house at a yet to be determined location.

As far back as February of 2022, a smaller plan in size and scope was being discussed in Bristol Township involving Newportville Fire Company #1, Third District Fire Company with career fire personnel from the township which came off the heels of  a fire study completed in 2020.  That plan is no longer in play, fire officials say. Third District Fire Chief Howard McGoldrick said it’s a “complete mystery” why Newportville ultimately decided against the discussed move and merger.

” Volunteer fire services in Bucks County are changing right before our eyes” one first responder said last year.

Credit: Submitted

In each of the consolidation efforts, public safety, declining volunteer numbers and increasing costs have been cited repeatedly by officials publicly.

“It’s just not sustainable anymore financially for fire companies, the municipalities they serve, and taxpayers. It’s consolidate or die”, a high ranking first responder source said Friday.

Bensalem Council is expected to pass the resolution with its vote tonight.

Editor’s Note:  Each of the images in this story come from the volunteer fire companies serving Bensalem Township.

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Cops, Courts & Fire -Bensalem Township

Thunderstorm Rips Through Lower Bucks Area Friday Evening



A Friday evening thunderstorm ripped through the Lower Bucks County area causing power outages, trees to come down, and other related damage.

The storm swept the area beginning around 6 p.m. just as the evening rush hour for motorists was ending.

Scattered wind gusts were expected, with up-to 1/4 inch sized hail and intermitted lightening were called for by forecasters before the storm landed.

Credit: Submitted

In the Winder Village section of Bristol Township, public safety officials say a tree landed on a vehicle while the motorist was operating the vehicle. The driver was able to get out of the vehicle under his own power with no injuries, Third District Fire Company officials said.

Credit: Submitted


In the Bensalem -Bristol areas, dozens are still without power, as of 7 a.m. Saturday morning, Information, according to PECO, is still pending assessment in the Croydon  and West Bristol sections of Bristol Twp.

Credit: PECO

No information on any injuries sustained as a result of the storm at this time.

Approximately 400 customers remain without power, PECO officials say in the Lower Bucks County area as of publication time.

Credit: Joe Nelson




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Breaking News - Bensalem Township

“Armed Man” Initiates Lockdown for Levittown Elementary School Thursday, No Charges Filed



Brookwood Elementary

**Update: Friday 4 a.m.**

Earlier Thursday, Brookwood Elementary in Bristol Township instituted their “Lockdown Procedures” due to an alleged report of a “armed man” in the area of the school.

Parents received a community update notice which said they were in lockdown due to a security concern in a nearby neighborhood.  The notice said updates would be provided as they occur and to please not come to or contact the school.

Police dispatched to the elementary school raced up Haines Road one witness told the publication taking one man into custody, authorities  said.

“There was an incident involving an adult male, who was in possession of a firearm near the school crossing guard post (Kenwood Drive North & Key Lane.) There is no information at this time that he attempted to enter the school. The matter is under investigation. No one has been arrested as of this time,” said Lt. Sean Cosgrove in an e-email exchange with Lower Bucks Source, shortly after the incident.

At 1:30 p.m., the lockdown was lifted without further incident.



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