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Lawsuit Claims Upland Borough Councilman Tried To Have Fire Chief Arrested

UPLAND BOROUGH, Pa. (CBS) -- A federal lawsuit has been filed against Upland Borough Councilman Ed Mitchell and the borough's ex-police chief.

CBS 3's Joe Holden reports the lawsuit alleges Mitchell – who is already facing criminal charges – may have tried to enrich himself at the expense of the borough's fire department.

Mitchell is accused of smearing a political rival and using former Upland Borough Police Chief Nelson Ocasio to get that rival out of the way.

Mitchell was previously charged with stealing $130,000 from the borough and rigging an illegal surveillance system in Borough Hall, but now Mitchell and Ocasio have been slapped with a federal lawsuit.

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The court documents claim Mitchell was attempting to force the fire department to pay substantially more for building upgrades to Catania Construction, where the suit alleges Mitchell is now a full-time employee.

However, when rival councilman and fire chief Dan Smith objected, it's claimed Mitchell threatened to have Smith arrested.

Attorney Jacqueline Vigilante of Mullica Hill filed the lawsuit.

"Elected government officials took advantage of their positions and the public trust and the public taxpayer's money for their own benefit and in the process took down people who are good people," Vigilante said.

Sources allege Mitchell, a longtime public official, continued to conduct business around the borough, despite facing more than two dozen charges.

Ocasio's attorney wouldn't talk with CBS 3, saying he had not seen the lawsuit.

Upland residents are upset by the turmoil that has eclipsed the tiny Delaware County town.

"I think it's terrible. It's mind-boggling really," one resident said.

A woman who answered the phone at Catania Construction said there would be no comment.

Also, no one at borough offices had anything to say about the lawsuit.

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