SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)- Did a local mayor order his borough’s police officers to racially profile people of color? The FBI began looking for answers to that question today.
The I-Team first looked into the allegations Wednesday. Today, the investigation was taken to the next level- the federal level.
Friday, a former and current Exeter police officer met with the FBI agents. That meeting came after those officers, along with others, accused the mayor of ordering them to target people of color.
Exeter Patrolman Joseph Schlagel and former Exeter Sergeant Len Galli walked out of the federal building in Scranton Friday after a two hour meeting with FBI agents.
“We provided them with our documentation and everything they need to further their investigation,” says Galli. “So at this point it’s up to them.”
They and other officers claim that Mayor Herman Castellani gave orders to racially profile African Americans. This is what Galli and Castellani told the I-Team Wednesday:
“He didn’t want the coloreds in the town,” says Galli. “He wanted us to remove them from the town so to speak.”
“Absolutely not,” says Castellani. “That is a complete lie. I’ll stack my hand on bibles anytime and call those people liars.”
Schlagel is a 14 year veteran of the Exeter Police Force.
“I just want to see justice served,” says Schlagel. “We had a nice conversation with the FBI and we’ll let them handle the investigation. Hopefully the truth will come out. I stand by everything our officers did.”
“It’s a difficult investigation,” says Attorney Peter Paul Olszweski, former judge and prosecutor.
Olszweski says federal investigations have to get answers to a lot of questions.
“If police officers were in fact given instructions to stop people because of race, when those instructions were given why wasn’t it reported earlier?” says Olszweski. “And what actions were taken upon hearing those instructions.”
Olszweski says FBI agents will also probably have to examine police records and interview everyone on the police force as part of their investigation if they decide to move forward. As with most FBI investigations, the agency has not returned our calls seeking comment for this report.
The Exeter Solicitor is conducting his own investigation. There is no timeline on that probe, but he tells Eyewitness News the findings, if any, will be turned over to Exeter Borough Council.