Bullied by the ‘blue wall’ for whistleblowing? Ex-JCPD cop ‘Real Steel Ramos’ claims in lawsuit

Ex-JCPD Officer Juan L. Ramos filed a lawsuit in Hudson County Superior Court alleging the City of Jersey City violated his civil rights and discriminated against him because he was perceived to be whistleblowing on corruption. 

Ex-JCPD officer Juan "Lou" Ramos

Ex-JCPD officer Juan “Lou” Ramos aka Lou Real Steel Ramos

Ex-Jersey City Police Department (JCPD) officer Juan L. Ramos – also known as “Lou Real Steel Ramos” on social media – insists that he’s the victim of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation for being perceived as a whistleblower, undergoing weight loss surgery, and posting “inspirational” content on Instagram leading to the termination of his employment.

According to the complaint filed in Hudson County Superior Court, Ramos, an officer with the JCPD from January 7, 2005 to July 25, 2016, claims he lost his job due to fitness evaluations that were corrupted by the City of Jersey City’s business relationships with mental health vendors.

Ramos says his troubles originally date back to the summer of 2007, when he complained to then-Lt. Peter Sinacore, retired as of 2009, concerning the legality of a police detail at a construction site. Sinacore allegedly labeled Ramos a “rat” during a subsequent meeting for supposedly recording private conversations – leading to years of harassment from “every supervisor” and distrust among his fellow officers, according to the complaint.

On top of facing harassment from the “blue wall of silence” for allegedly questioning corrupt practices, Ramos claims he was discriminated against and humiliated for being obese – leading him to seek surgical remedy that resulted in substantial weight loss. In spite of the surgery, the ex-JCPD officer attests that he continued to work in a hostile environment for perceived whistleblowing activities and disability.

Furthermore, around May 2, 2014, JCPD Internal Affairs (IA) allegedly targeted Ramos because it was believed he was recording officers involved in official misconduct and corruption. According to the complaint, the intent of the IA investigation was to discourage Ramos from reporting any wrongdoing.

Additionally, Ramos’ lawsuit asserts that the IA investigation took place as federal law enforcement was probing JCPD corruption. It’s specifically alleged that the IA investigation sought to obtain damaging evidence against other police officers in order to protect them from criminal liability.

The lawsuit also states that, rather than stopping the harassment he faced at work, Ramos’ commander – North District Captain Edgar Martinez – told him that he “needed to have thick skin.” Alleged examples of harassment included unflattering pictures of Ramos being circulated, Capt. Edward Kist having a picture of a sumo wrestler marked with Ramos’ name visible in his locker, and other officers ridiculing the “Real Steel Ramos” by calling him a “f***ing cheater.”

According to Ramos, in March 2015 he began to respond to derogatory comments on social media by posting “inspirational” pictures in a private capacity (mostly in meme form based on internet searches). Though he claims it was protected activity, IA apparently used Instagram posts to launch what Ramos says was a retaliatory investigation against him.

Sometime in April 2015, Ramos claims IA summoned him and accused him of violating the JCPD’s social media policy. Furthermore, it’s stated that then-Lt. Mark Miller of IA ordered the ex-officer to obtain a “fitness for duty evaluation” at the Institute for Forensic Psychology (IFP).

Ramos contends that the City of Jersey City schemed to fabricate a pretext to fire him – including a fitness evaluation at IFP, which the lawsuit claims is “widely known” to diagnose officers as “unfit for duty.” Furthermore, the complaint states IFP has a business relationship with the City of Jersey City and other municipalities to provide favorable reports based on information it receives and ex-parte communications with referring agencies.

IFP doctors allegedly diagnosed Ramos with “Histrionic Personality Disorder with Narcissistic personality features” and found him unfit for duty, according to the complaint. Following IFP evaluations, Ramos proclaims he was evaluated by an independent doctor who found him fit for duty.

Despite the independent evaluation, the suit claims the unfit for duty reports from IFP ultimately led Public Safety Director James Shea to suspend Ramos without pay. Following Shea’s actions, Ramos says he requested to Lt. Miller that New Pathway Counseling Service (NPCS) evaluate him. Miller allegedly objected because Ramos had “little chance of recovery,” but informed the ex-JCPD officer that he was free to pay out of his own pocket for an evaluation.

Unlike IPF, the lawsuit professes that it’s “widely known” NPCS approves JCPD employees as “fit for duty.” Which leads to Ramos’ most shocking allegation – that after apparently paying out-of-pocket for an evaluation, NPCS found him fit for duty, then demanded the ex-officer return their evaluation because NPCS was a vendor for the city.

Of note – JCPD officers Anthony and Maria Ruocco are mentioned as examples of city employees sent to NPCS and evaluated as fit for duty, according to Ramos’ lawsuit. Various sources confirmed to Real Jersey City that the married couple had unfortunate issues play out on social media, and, as a precaution, both were stripped of their firearms and placed on modified duty at one point by the city.

As for Ramos, he claims he advised the city that its own vendor, NPCS, found him fit for duty, and a subsequent evaluation was ordered. Ramos claims that, despite an agreement for a neutral medical examiner between the city and himself, the accord was broken and the evaluation was allegedly administered by the city’s “own doctor” at Comprehensive Psychological Services (CPS).

Ramos accuses the doctor who administered the evaluation of submitting a “false and unfounded” report, and that it was considered “flawed and unsubstantiated” by two independent doctors who found him fit for duty. Despite what he claimed were requests for reasonable accommodations due to the flawed evaluations, Ramos says the city refused to engage in an interactive process before ultimately terminating his employment.

After losing his job, Ramos states the city retaliated against him once more by falsely claiming he was terminated for misconduct when the ex-officer sought unemployment benefits. Despite the Department of Labor denying his October 2016 request for unemployment assistance, Ramos ultimately obtained the benefit on appeal.

The lawsuit was filed by attorney Louis A. Zayas, who has represented other JCPD officers in civil cases, and seeks compensatory damages, reinstatement and punitive damages for numerous civil rights and discrimination violations. The City of Jersey City is the sole defendant.

Director Shea responded to an email seeking comment on Ramos’ lawsuit by stating the Fulop Administration never comments on litigation.

12 comments

  • True accounts of what goes on in JCPD are seldom printed. Thank you for this well researched, well written article..

  • Spoiler alert! Lou, tell the truth, you spoofed your phone number to appear like another officer and repeatedly called mr. Sinacore at 4am. The unknowing officer got into trouble and you never stepped forward. Officers told on you. {censored due to reference of a 3rd party and unknown incident specified} Or the time you were caught scamming off duty work and were banned from working them. But you are a whistle blower? Come on Lou. I saw cops breaking the silence you speak of to notify the upper management that you were a ticking time bomb. They finally figured out how to get you out before you jeopardized the safety of the public. Furthermore, no one cares that you got surgery, when I was on the job, everyone avoided you because you were always in trouble for substantiated nonsense. Hey Michael, I truly respect your journalism but you have been duped. Look closer at fire inspector Lou. Opra his i.a file. He is one of the cops your journalism uncovers.

    • Old North Grump –

      Had to censor part of your comment because nature of allegations, though, left the rest intact. I appreciate the kind words, but it’s not about if I’ve been duped or not, it’s about accurately reporting what Ramos is alleging in a lawsuit against the city. I hope readers carefully parsed through the article and decided on their own what they feel is questionable and what causes concern, and, if they see this comment, understand what a JCPD officer that isn’t sympathetic to Ramos’ complaint would say (even if anonymously).

      Also, if life were as easy as OPRAing an I.A. file… Anyhow, feel free to reach out to me, off-the-record, via the contact page.

      – Michael

      • You recording all the police officers
        For what reason
        Taking pictures
        You go too far
        Gung ho… Makes it dangerous
        Even your nickname….
        Low real Street Ramos
        Recording your friends is not a nice thing
        Hope you make money on the lawsuit

    • Old North Grump a.k.a North Executive Officer Lt. Peter Sinacore of The Jersey City Police Department.
      In defense of P.O. JL Ramos Sinacore accused P.O. Ramos of recording officers do to his inappropriate behavior at a off duty detail on St. Paul’s Ave. & Tonnelli Ave. from the moment P.O. Ramos address his concerns on how he was handing the detail, him and P.O. Paul W fabricated that this poor officer of being a rat. From there, no officers wanted to work with him. Supervisors made his life a living hell. And only you could have a statement concerning his internal affairs file being a supervisor assigned in internal affairs. I can remember before I retired you denying several officers to view their I.A. file for personal reasons. You along with other supervisors were wrong Sir.
      As for as for Off duty details Sinacore and Phil Zacche would ban officers from details just cause. As per the supposed 4am phone calls that he received I remembered talking to Ramos before I retired on this incident and he stated that he had left a 203A report along with phone records exonerating him of any wrong doing and no charges brought against him. So please talk to truth. Enjoy your retirement.
      -CityWatch201

  • It’s true things like that do go on within the JCPD !!! If an Officer isn’t one of the ‘In crowd’ or hooked up Political he or she is screwed if they take a stand. I’m not saying Ramos was an angel but he did get harassed extremely badly by supervisors and officers. So many other officers have gotten away with so much worse than Facebook post , but still have their jobs because of Political affiliations. I hope Ramos gets paid and more officers expose the corruption within the JCPD !!!

  • During my short career I’ve witnessed these things first hand. I have worked with JL Ramos plenty of times. He’s a really great guy. He was harassed regularly. If you’re plugged in like SaltyBro says, things get swept under the rug for you. If you’re on their shit list, then you will experience a hostile work environment. This place is like high school part 2!

    Lots of corruption within the JCPD. I’m glad the feds are investigating this place. Drain the swamp. Make the JCPD great again.

  • Corruption? yes it’s the same circus, just different clowns.

  • It’s a shame that a great city like Jersey City is held back by an old way old thinking. No one is perfect, but when someone can destroy your career over harmless social media posts, that ‘old boys’ network as gone too far. Public safety was clearly not their motivation. The city sent a clear message to then PO JL Ramos and others like him – if you’re not in, you’re out.

    Furthermore, the long arm of JCPD’s corruption implicates a third-party of the medical community. This brings to question past IFP evaluations done by NPCS. This is a complete betrayal of the fragile relationship between the public and the law enforcement community.

  • Situations like this are extremely sad and disappointing. In a time where our streets are filled with so much violence and corruption we would hope and desire that those who take an oath to protect us would not be involved in such corruption. It is a shame that a police officer would be harassed and put to shame because those in charge are be called out for their wrong doings. Where is the accountability???? I admire PO Ramos for standing up Knowing that at the end the truth always prevails!! As a Jersey City citizen I’ve had the pleasure of being helped by P.O. RAMOS and I pray and know it will work out for him.

  • During my career I’ve witnessed these things first hand. I have worked with JL Ramos plenty of times. He’s a really great guy. He was harassed regularly. If you’re on their shit list, then you will experience a hostile work environment. JL Ramos was a hard worker and he got the short end of the stick.

    JL Ramos would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. He would go put of his way to help you any which way he could. As far as the social media stuff that’s all BS. There were plenty of other cops that posted risque stuff on their social media and never got questioned or reprimanded for their actions.

    JL I really hope you win your lawsuit against the city and go on with your life and succeed in your endeavors. God bless.

  • Michael Shurin A/K/A Terrence MacDonald—I just read the same story on NJ.Com—the only thing changed was the byline. Are you writing for the Jersey?

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